Breakroom

4 AM was always his longest hour. It seemed that the rest of the world was deep in a somber slumber while production continued. He walked outside to begin his journey to the breakroom on this unseasonably warm February morning. With eyes and feet like stone, he felt every heavy step along the way.

Once inside, he poured himself a cup of coffee to pull him through the rest of the shift. He left it black as the night sky outside of the broad windows. Between coffee and energy drinks, he felt as though caffeine pumped more so than oxygen in his bloodstream. The warm brew crept into his soul to provide enough energy for a heavy sigh. His eyes closed for a moment.

He thought of his bed and his wife who slept peacefully in it. The minor argument they shared earlier seemed so distant in his timeline. At least she would be there when he came home with a kiss and a smile to melt the woes of the night before. One of many blessings to be thankful for.

His opened his eyes at last. He lifted the cup to his lips and sipped it as smoothly as a drag from a cigarette. His lips had grown accustomed to the black velvet on his tongue as replacement to his beloved whisky. He looked into the white Styrofoam as if he were looking at a good friend and often wondered however which could kill him first.

The radio clicked abruptly, snapping him out of his momentary bliss. His rough and callused hands reached for the screeching speaker and his safety glasses. It was time to return to his machine and bring a new success into the matching day. With a deep breath and optimism for the rising sun, he was determined yet again.

I’m Shelton. I’m Addicted to Reese’s Cups and My Life is Spiraling Out of Control.

Am I in a slump again? Perhaps another plateau in my medication? It really can’t be that complicated, as this morning I rose with the sun to face new challenges lying before me. I started out with my best foot forward on a positive note only to find myself buckling into my seat on the rollercoaster. Is this what “normal” people do?

Despite its’ title, Tuesday has been my Monday this week. 5:30 AM came in the usual fashion as I staggered into the kitchen to take the dog outside and start my first of several cups of coffee for the day. I put in my contacts after throwing on my dingy white tee shirt and work jeans before making my way to the plant. After four days off, it can be difficult to find the strength to carry out a twelve hour shift, but I try to keep a positive outlook and remain grateful for my job. Once at work I put on my personal protective equipment and took a deep breath before plunging into the work day. The gears within me began turning as I took each step to my work area. I felt stronger than my machinery and was determined that today would be great… Until the crash.

On my days off, I have a hard time thinking of topics to write about. Despite my posts about everyday life consisting of a journal style format, I have many ideas for poetry and original pieces but I prefer to write quality over quantity in that respect. I always have the best ideas at work for some reason and have been writing a lot on my lunch breaks lately. Today I had great thoughts. Rhythms, words, rhymes, and metaphors that made my heart race with adrenaline and emotion. I went to lunch as soon as I could to begin something great, only to have my thumbs vomit onto my phones’ keyboard. The words weren’t flowing right and the phrases had the rhythm of one of those creepy toy monkeys with the obnoxious cymbals. My beautiful writing became complete shit before my eyes.

Disappointed and out of time, I commenced the walk back to my area. Not before buying a couple of packs of Reese’s cups for the walk of course. Ever since I have stopped drinking liquor I have been hooked on peanut butter cups and coffee. However, even with the warm and sweet comfort dancing on my tastebuds, I slowly lingered into depression… Which soon became frustration with the challenges at work… Which became happiness again when talking with my coworkers and triggered sadness as I walked away from the conversation. What the hell was this? I had been completely fine and due to a minor setback, I became a wreck in the making. I have experienced this in the past before beginning my Buspirone but it had been awhile since my last episode, so perhaps it was just a rough day. After all, everyone has bad days.

I know I am overreacting about the entire thing but you have to understand how I used to handle things before beginning my medication. When I used to get upset or angry, it was never a simple act of just going on with life. I used to hold onto the anger all day and sometimes carry it into the next day. Now to feel everything within moments feels like I am several people all at once. Everyone is fighting to show through to the surface and it is up to me to mediate. It seems that with every time this happens, I handle it well but never fully understand if this is how this really feels or if it’s just a side effect.

So tomorrow is another day and I plan to grab the bull by the horns and hopefully keep my emotions from spiraling. This may just be the new and improved me that I learn to live with. Besides, every new edition has bugs to be fixed, right? I will keep you posted with an update, but for now I hope you are doing great.

Power Struggle

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but what about the mind that pushes the hand?

Perhaps mine is lost but it’s been stuck in translation for so long that it speaks more than it should, but I feel that it’s long overdue for it to finally take its’ stand.

I mean, it sat idly by like a lion on the prowl with a growl and a roar billowing in its’ belly.

Watching. Waiting. Hesitating.

For the mouth knew not how to do more than sing, so it stuttered and uttered word vomit for the hand to clean with symbols and phrases for the world to read. But the mind made the first move.

You see, their ears grew deaf to the songs and the screams for the help and attention that the mind wasn’t getting and it broke down and cried, “Look at me! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!”, but the words were in vain.

Scarred. Scared. Secluded.

Crying and dying were the options before it so it looked to the heavens and everywhere else below it and decided to try to attempt something foreign like the translations that I previously spoke of.

The pen was the beacon for healing and feeling but the mind needed help from the heart that kept beating in rhythm and time which held a great tempo and helped take emotion from the depths of a soul forever longing.

Longing to grow and to change and to thrive, like the sprout in the sun which is craving and raving yet still meditating while endlessly forming its’ roots.

So which wields the power, the pen or the mind? Which will move mountains or stir up the oceans or something more meaningful like save a life?

Forever a question like chickens and eggs but perhaps the real answer lies with the beauty. Perhaps in the eyes of…

Beholders. Dreamers. Believers.

I Quit… And I’m Alright With It

I was never a bad student in school. I was able to maintain good grades but had never one to be forced to learn subjects that were of no value to me. I had simple desires in school. Teach me to read, basic math skills, and how to write. Instead, I was taught all three at once and have yet to find a situation where I use y=mx+b in my adult life. I have attempted higher education three times in my life and at twenty-five years old, I hold my head high and say “I quit” for good.

After graduating high school, the sky was the limit for an eighteen year old with a music scholarship. No matter what anyone said, I was going to be a professional singer come hell or high water. I moved away from my small town into another small town that housed Wingate University and loved the sense of freedom radiating in the air. My time there was not an entire waste, as I met many nice people and travelled to great places singing with the college choir. Even back then however, I wrestled anxiety and it crippled my performance. I was expected to fulfill nineteen credit hours per semester which consumed my mind. Certain professors held favoritism for particular students allowing one group of students to excell effortlessly while many others were left to claw their way to the spotlight. After a year or so, I broke down and dropped out for my own well-being.

Once I came home, I needed to support myself despite living with my parents. My first job was as an unloader for a local Wal-Mart. From four in the afternoon until one in the morning I was in the back of a trailer unloading cases of merchandise by hand. I decided again that it was time to see if I could grab another star from that previously mentioned sky. Music has been in my blood from birth, so I pursued a broadcasting degree from my local community college to produce my passion. I felt accomplishment in a way I hadn’t at Wingate. I used my computer screen as an artist utilizes their canvas. I made fairly decent music and was happy for awhile, but life had a different plan for me.

Money began to dwindle as Wal-Mart lost the willingness to bend with my school schedule. I quit and found work at a grocery store that allowed flexibility to continue my education but paid significantly less. I only had one semester left until I could graduate but in the broadcasting field internships barely pay the bills, if they pay anything at all. Guests in the industry were coming to the college telling us that broadcasting was a dying field because of the internet. I felt the worth of my work slipping and life gave me another twist I didn’t expect. I began to fall into deep debt by doing what I loved. Being a student was going to ruin me financially. Eventually I was forced to leave school and find a full time job to stay afloat.

Over the next year I worked as a material handler for a company that assembled parts for conveyor systems. I was hired as a temp and left them under the same title. When there is no room to grow, it’s time to go. I was hired with my current company and have happily worked in my position one day at a time. Not long after my hire date, inspiration lingered in my mind yet again. “If I can get a degree during my time here, surely I can make this job my career.”, I thought. I began to pursue my degree in industrial distribution and logistics through an online degree program. After one semester, an eye opening experience with my mental health, and many battles against the bottle, I realized that even when I wasn’t in a classroom I hated school.

Higher education is fantastic when you know exactly what you want in life. It is vital for those who are doctors, nurses or anyone really who enjoy learning core curriculum about things that interest them. For many others however, it is expensive, time consuming, and ultimately depressing due to a desire to just live life and pursue happiness in their current state. In my journey for better mental health I have realized that if you are not happy, it’s time to find your joy. In my case, I make a good living. My wife and pets love me and we make every day the best it can be. I may not have a degree or in the process of gaining one, but I wouldn’t be happy by forcing myself to pursue one in any subject.

In conclusion, I quit. I am no longer a student. I am a machine operator. I am a loving husband. I am a proud pet parent. I used to be a musician and am now a writer. I am Shelton Fisher and I am happy.

I Have Failed

Who doesn’t love the weekend? Any time off to kick back and relax does the mind and body a world of good. However, even in these times we are faced with choices that produce good or bad outcomes. I made a decision during my downtime that I came to realize I’m not very proud of. To my friends and readers (whom I also consider friends), I’m coming clean in this post.

For those of you who have never met me, you may not know that I work a rotating schedule with my company. This means that I work for four days followed by having the following four days off. Having the weekend off is an occurrence that happens every month or so and I typically spend time with my wife and pets when I get such fortune. This weekend was going especially good because we decided to stay in watch tv together on Saturday. We needed a few things to make dinner so I decided to brave the howling winds and go to the store. Little did I know that I was about to step into a trap that I set.

I walked into the grocery store with a small list and a mission to get in and get out as soon as I could. I managed to grab all the ingredients we needed for dinner and grabbed a few extras to accompany our meal. I made my way to the frozen food section and there it was. So taunting yet so tantalizing, the IPAs called to me. I had passed by the beer many times before but this time was different somehow.

“I’m a grown ass man and I can make my decisions like an adult. I’ve had this under control and buying this doesn’t change that.”, I thought to myself. I’m a real sucker for a good IPA that doesn’t break the bank so I allowed my ego to take over and spend the five dollars on a four pack.

There is one thing I would like to clarify before I continue. I was never a raging alcoholic. I never drank and drive, never got violent when drunk, and always stayed confined when drinking. I stopped drinking liquor because I was letting it run my life. I found every window of opportunity to drink and took it without a second thought. I was the one who put my foot down about it and said enough was enough and sought help for self medicating my anxiety through alcohol. My wife was very quick to remind me of this when I came home.

Tough love is probably some of the best love that one could ever ask for, and I am eternally grateful for my wife from the bottom of my heart. She is the best support I could ever ask for whether it’s my panic attacks sending me off or staying off the bottle. She helped me to realize that not only did I break my own rule about alcohol in the house, but I am now a hypocrite to you all. How can I preach maintaining a happier, healthier life when I struggle to maintain my own? At that moment, I held my nose and took a large bite of crow since I had the beer to wash it down with.

I have fallen on my journey to self improvement now for the first time and I pray that it’s the last. My goal now is to only drink at restaurants and to never bring alcohol back into my house. Most importantly, I strive now to not let my family, my readers, and myself down again. I will not fail you all again. Besides, it’s not that you fall… It’s how you get back up that matters most.

Reps

There is something invigorating about exercise. The feeling of sweat pouring from your body as you push through both your physical and mental boundaries to achieve a personal goal. Around the time I left liquor by the wayside, I began to explore outlets that I could use to replace my bad habit. I needed to find something constructive that would build strength rather than make me numb. As mentioned in previous posts, I didn’t grow up as an athlete. I was always the scrawny musician so you can imagine my surprise after completing my first full workout at the gym.

I remember getting on the treadmill and beginning to walk. I put in my earbuds and began to find music to fit both my mood and my stride. As the music got faster, I would soon follow. Before I knew it, I was running as if my life depended on it. I began to think about everything I had been going through. My panic attacks, my anxiety, my bad habits, and how livid I was with how I let my life take dominion over who I was. My legs burned with the same intensity as my anger… and I loved it. I moved on to the arm and ab machines and kept the momentum flowing. As my muscles ached with every curl and crunch, I kept going to punish myself in the same way I would with a fifth. I had found my outlet.

It may sound sadistic, but with every workout that followed the idea of punishment kept my motivation high and gave me a sense of pride. It felt good to beat the old me into submission. Sometimes things can happen however that make good things fall apart. A few months into my fitness journey, I had a terrible panic attack at the gym. All my senses became heightened through my workout. I heard conversations outside of my earbuds. The smell of the paper towels and the disinfectant used to clean the machines made me extremely nauseous. My fight or flight instincts kicked into high gear as I lifted myself on the chin up bar sending adrenaline coursing through my veins. Then the crash followed shortly behind. My strength was drained as I attempted to pull weights to my chest. I felt as though the entire gym was staring at me, mocking my weakness. I got off the machine and made my way to the locker room for the most sickening shower of my life. I needed to escape.

The panic attack followed by some adjustments to my anxiety medication kept me out of the gym for about a month afterwards until yesterday. I met my friend Shane at work and he is also on a journey for self improvement. He works out at a different gym in town than I do and invited me to come along with him for a workout. I have to admit that I was reluctant at first but I also knew I needed to get back at it again. I had been eating and feeling like shit again and letting my mental health ruin a good thing, so I took him up on his offer.

The gym is in the basement of an apartment complex that used to be an old textiles mill. The exterior of the Loray Mills Apartments and Athletics Club towers above the city of Gastonia, serving as a landmark for the entire west side of the city. Upon entering the building the smell of the wooden stairwells was inviting to all who come in. We began our decent to the gym for the most intense workout I had experienced yet. Music pumped through the speakers providing motivation for all inside as we began cardio to raise our heart rates. Then came the weights.

Shane showed me how to use the machines I had never seen before and provided great insight to get better results. “One more rep!”, he would say. “You’ve got five more in you! You’ve got this”, he would reply in response to its’ completion. “Take it to failure. Don’t even count the reps.” His motivation proved to be extremely helpful and wise beyond just the workout. He taught me how to deadlift and how to use the proper form with free weights. My chest grew tight with every rep and my muscles burned with that same fire I remembered from my first workout. Shane helped me with more than just getting into shape again.

I have learned how to laugh at myself and how to speak up for myself and my beliefs recently. I now am beginning to learn to take my own advice and just do it. The more we think about what we are doing instead of just completing tasks at hand, the more stressful they become. We tend to focus so much that we overthink things and make them much more complex than they need to be. This keeps us from things that are good for us because they begin to feel like a chore. If I counted my reps yesterday, I would have never reached my true limits with the weights or have even tried the free weights for that matter. Sometimes coming back to something in a new environment with the company of friends is just what you need to gain momentum to not give up on something you enjoy. With that said, I challenge you to try and try again. If you enjoy something, don’t let your mind become your enemy. Let it rest for once and get your reps in. And Shane if you’re reading this, we’ll get together again soon and do it again!

Speaking Up

I opened my eyes this morning to a brand new day. The words “brand new” echoed through my mind as if someone clapped down an empty hallway. Motivation coursed through me as fluid as the blood in my veins. I stared at the ceiling as my wife arose from her side of the bed and could only think one thing. It’s about time!

On days where I work my day shifts it becomes difficult to write blogs to the caliber that I would like to post. My days off and night shifts provide more opportunity to reach out and share my thoughts. With that said, the past couple of days have sort of shaped todays’ mood in my personal opinion. I have learned several valuable lessons in finding flexibility, the power of taking deep breaths, and finding the confident voice that was buried deep down.

To those who know me in real life, I am a very “go with the flow” type of person. I never am one to call the shots and or oppose plans to their originators. A problem arose at work however and I decided to finally speak up. I wrote a formal complaint and took a deep breath before sending it, as I became nervous that I was stepping over my boundaries in complaining. “Am I really about to send this?”, I thought reluctantly. I clicked send and walked away from the computer anxiously. Can you guess what happened next? I was taken seriously! The following day, multiple people asked my opinion as to how to fix the issue! I decided after my discussions that I am going to write an email to my entire workplace with words of encouragement every day that I am on shift to strengthen both my voice as a person and hopefully our unity as a community with the common goal of success. I also had an epiphany.

Imagine yourself as a soda can. You sit idly on the counter until you are picked up by an excited child. You didn’t ask to be held, yet there you are suspended in air being shaken up like maracas in a mariachi band. Eventually your pressure is pushed to the limits that the can will hold. You feel your exterior tightening as you struggle to keep everything inside until finally…… YOU EXPLODE! Again, you didn’t ask for this outcome. You were perfectly fine sitting atop the counter. This would have never happened if the pressure was released. You would have never been shaken if you were open. Life is the same way.

If you learn to bend with situations in front of you while thinking of solutions, you will be surprised at what you can create in your mind and you won’t tense up under the stress. This can be with almost any situation at home, work, or even when you are trapped within your mind. When you take a deep breath you feel pressure release as you exhale. It can be a great feeling to sense stress wash away and can even show you that it is not a bad thing to open up. Talk about things in life such as your troubles, your concerns, your victories, etc. Transparency will provide an amazing sense of confidence because you have nothing to hide. Be the strength you want to possess!

So to come back to this morning, I feel great. My coffee tasted great, I made my wife her lunch, and helped her to complete an important project before her workday began. We needed a few things from the store and I got everything I needed to get without a glance at my cold, hoppy friends in the cold case. Beer was the farthest thing from my mind for the first time in a long time. I even managed to make some changes to my blog website before writing to you. If you have seen my page before, you will notice that the Google Plus and the WordPress logos are gone. They looked nice, but I realized that I honestly didn’t know if they even did anything. The only ones are Facebook and Twitter logos and if you click them, you will be directed to my personal pages instead of your newsfeed! This is an issue I was unaware of until yesterday, so hopefully I can connect better with my readers now.

In conclusion, I really hope that this feeling stays with me awhile. I could seriously get used to how motivation feels. They say that an object in motion will stay in motion so I feel optimistic about my new approach to things. I also hope to begin writing some fiction works soon so subscribe or add me to your social media if you enjoy my posts! Make it a great day!

 

 

Interaction

Independence is trait that I have made a conscious effort to maintain all my life. As a child, I would find interest in superheroes with natural abilities instead of gadgets because their power was from within. During my teenage years I wanted to be a one man band. I had a natural talent with music that allowed me to sing at a young age and in an effort to eliminate a need for other people, I learned to play guitar and harmonica. When I went to school for broadcasting I had the idea that I could record and produce my own music to provide an outlet to become famous. In retrospect, I was a braying jackass that probably needed my teeth kicked in because I wanted friends, popularity, and to prosper without any interaction from anyone else. Although all of that is in the past, I think that this lone ranger is ready to take his mask off for all to see.

Over the course of my journey for better mental health I have continued to take challenges by the horns on my own. Some days I can throw my problems out and move on and other days I am trampled like the rodeo clown who takes his smoke breaks in the barrel. During all this however I have noticed a constant that doesn’t waver very much. Social interaction actually seems to help me and I can’t do this alone. Yes, you just read that correctly and I was just as shocked as you may be.

I began to notice the difference after beginning my medicine. Despite being a former musician, my social skills have never been very good. I was the nervous skinny guy who never said much and didn’t speak his mind if it meant someone getting offended or upset. After I started taking my medicine I began to notice that over time I had a desire to begin speaking my mind and initiating conversations with people. I began to build better relationships with my coworkers and speak up about problems instead of letting them smolder under my skin. The crazy thing is that I feel that it actually made an impact in both my work and personal life. Things I suggested began to get taken seriously, my opinions are requested, and I had inspiration to start this blog. Despite a few bad days, overall I feel much better as a person because of opening up and developing friendships.

What does this mean presently? Lately it has meant that I have been finding the courage to face triggers of my social anxiety. I have been making plans to go out with friends and keeping them and developing plans with my wife to cross things off my bucket list like going to concerts and spending money on experiences instead of things. I have opened my Facebook page to the public in order to meet new people and new readers who go through the same things that I do. With that said, I hope to meet you someday if you find me out there! I am also gradually learning to deal with triggers within my family by attempting to say what I really feel without fear of confrontation. It is a slow work in progress but in due time, I feel that I can fix some bridges with old friends and family that I have neglected through the years.

So how can this relate to you? I want to challenge you to try and talk to someone at random. It doesn’t have to be anything too personal, but just something to initiate a general conversation with a new person who you don’t socialize with often. You don’t have to leave your comfort zone if you feel your anxiety take the reigns but if you are prone to that happening, I want for you to become aware of the anxiety on a deeper level. If you are ready to change and open up about it, take the steps you feel are necessary to remain comfortable while working on it, whether it’s seeking help or just simply taking a few deep breaths. You may be surprised how much stronger you are than your fear.

 

To my Readers…

I left work yesterday morning a completely different person than when I came into my shift. Perhaps it’s the interaction with coworkers or the twelve hours of completing consistent tasks that slow my mind down, but whatever it is gives me so many thoughts to share with you. I have so many ideas that span far beyond the rise and inevitable fall of my moods and anxiety that I want to write about and I really hope you enjoy what you find here. With that said, I want to take a moment to thank you for your interest in my posts.

The development in my writing is one of many things that I wish to improve on. There is something almost therapeutic in expressing my thoughts and feelings to you, no matter how in detail they may be. Lately, those feelings have been on a downward slope but that’s what a lot of this page is about. I started this page to inspire with original works and to share progress in a never ending development of myself as a man with many flaws and mental anguish. Sharing my personal story includes both the good and the bad days but this doesn’t mean that it is a cry for help or attention. I tell my story as it unfolds to hopefully help and educate the readers and to provide a release of emotion for my own sanity.

I have been told that in order to fix people, I have to fix myself and that not every day is a big breakthrough for mental health and to a certain extent those statements are correct. However I stake this claim to make a statement of my own, that I am not trying to fix my audience and that my posts are not an advice column. I write in hopes that those who read that are going through the same things that I am can take solace in the fact that they are not alone and their challenges are not their downfall. As my mother always said as I was growing up, “This too shall pass.”

This is a brief post, but if you are discovering my page for the first time I welcome you and invite you to subscribe and come back. If you are a returning reader or subscriber I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking around and I hope to provide you with some light hearted adventures soon as well as some fiction works and poetry. If you are on my Snapchat and Facebook pages, I apologize for not posting last night as promised but appreciate your time as well and hope you stay tuned. Finally, I would like to invite you to find me on Facebook and Twitter. My posts are always uploaded there as well and tend to be more readily available for subscribers than with email, however I am the only twenty-five year old on the planet still learning Twitter so bare with me on that platform. Make it a great day and I will be posting more soon!