Rough Day

Today is a day where I hate my reflection. The man looking back at me is a hollow shell attempting to go through the motions of a normal day. I thought seriously about shaving my beard for a different view but i cant afford a divorce. My wife left me with a simple task. “Clean the apartment while I’m at work. Just clean the coffee table and take out the trash at least.”, she requested as she walked out the door.

It took three hours to find the motivation within to start cleaning. That entire time I admit that I sat on the couch with the dog. There was nothing stopping me from facing the task head on but myself. Despite the simplicity, I was overwhelmed thinking about filling a trashbag, picking up a few plates and cups, cleaning the guinea pigs’ cage, and taking a few things to the dumpster. I sat frozen on the couch not only upset by the request, but mostly with myself.

I literally just wrote to you about self motivation last night, and there I sat in a slump. What the hell is wrong with me? Am I just lazy, or is something seriously wrong here? Normal people don’t do this. They seem to have no problem with completing day to day chores. Even as a child I would become consumed by sloth tendencies with chores and school projects, but as an adult I hate myself for it.

These feelings followed me to the grocery store, as I went after cleaning to get spinach for the guinea pig and a few other things. I fought myself constantly between indecision on what to cook for dinner, and a relentless thirst for alcohol. Everything from red wine to malt liquor stared longingly as I passed by. Fourty torturous minutes later, I walked out with 6 items. I thought I was beyond this. I thought I could finally make decisions. How do people do this?

Presently, I am lying in bed with the dog by my side to get some sleep before my night shift. Even in posting this, I am beside myself judging every letter that my fingers strike. I write this with a purpose however. Lately life has been fairly good to me and I have been motivational for you all. This is to show one of my ugly sides and to keep track of my moodswings. To record my mindset in a dark hour. Yes, the sun will shine for me soon but until then, I hope today is great for you.

Just Do It

Nike coined the phrase “just do it” around the time I was in high school. It was all over t-shirts, hats, and the athletic kids who scored more than touchdowns on Friday nights. The surprising thing is that despite my musical background back then, “just do it” lingers in my mind as something more than a slogan. Between anxiety and expanding my mind into things that challenge my levels of comfort, sometimes you can’t just sit around and dwell about the “what ifs”. I’m beginning to realize that when you really want something you have to just do it.

I have worked with a company diligently for a little over a year now with some of the best people one could ever meet. My job consists of a blend of the unexpected with a hint of the usual. You never really know what you are going to encounter upon beginning a shift, but in a way that’s part of the fun. We create a product that becomes vital to the creation of other products and I love it. With that said, most days I tend to stare at the wall in front of my couch before I get ready for work. It’s not that I’m tired or that I’m distracted by the TV, but I almost seem to be stuck within myself dreading all the bad things that can happen (and no, I’m not getting my limbs ripped off in any of these scenarios so save that for “The Walking Dead”). I sit in a daze with everything from mechanical issues to how hot or cold it’s going to be in the plant clouding my thoughts. Before I know it, I have fifteen minutes to get to work and I’m still in my pajamas. I have no choice but to take my pill and just do it.

It isn’t always gloom and doom however. For as long as I can remember, I have been an awkward mess. I have a hard time speaking my mind at times and if there is an awkward situation at hand, I am bound to be close by. Social situations are the worst for this behavior. You won’t find me at local events or at a bar by myself because people make me nervous. I swear that I will say or do the wrong thing and upset those around me. I can’t be myself because I don’t feel normal and honestly, I’m fed up with it. I’m done being that person because I hate him. If you remember my bucket list posting, here is the first initiative. I will make an effort to put myself out there. I am going to start the conversations, go out in town and try new things, laugh at myself even more, and I’m not going to think about it more than making the plan. I’m going to just do it.

When you have anxiety, sometimes you feel like the world is against you. It feels almost like everything you do is judged by everyone and that you have to do things just right in order to make it through the day in one piece. Although it can be hard to see things in a different perspective, you have to learn an important lesson. You are your own worst enemy in these times. It takes a lot to bridge the gap between where you feel trapped and where you want to be as a person and in life, but it’s not impossible. I am not by any means saying this is easy to do, but if you don’t believe me then you should try it. Think of something you want to do but you are letting your anxiety hold you back. Now take a deep breath and just do it. It may be the best experience you have had in a long time.

 

Snow Days

Menacingly, my grandmother would look out the window when I was growing up and utter the phrase, “It better not snow.” She would say this any time that there was a remote chance that frozen precipitation was to darken our doorstep in our little slice of heaven. In North Carolina the weather can vary so much from season to season, hence this was one of her many reasons to hate snow. I, on the other hand, have never had much of a quarrel with it. This past summer was one of the muggiest and disgusting summers I have experienced so far between the heat and the humidity. With that being said, it wasn’t a huge shock to me that this past week would prove to be beyond what our local weather forecasters could predict in terms of snowfall.

It was predicted that our area would get anywhere between two to three inches of snow and it would only fall for a few hours. It turns out that we actually got around four to five inches and it snowed most of the day yesterday and the night before that. This was probably the first time that I didn’t jump on the bandwagon leading me down a path of milk, bread, and eggs but I feel as though my family was better equipped this time without the drama. This was also the first time that I weathered a snowstorm without a desire to keep warm by a fifth of whisky. As it turns out, you really don’t need much to survive these things. All I needed this time were my two feet, my wife, and a sense of adventure.

“Let’s walk to downtown Dallas!”, my wife exclaimed as we woke up yesterday morning. Walking wasn’t exactly the first thing on my to do list with pajamas still on and no coffee in my system. Reluctantly, I agreed as we set out to make a quick breakfast. After eating we threw our coats and sweatpants on. I decided to wear my trail running shoes since the terrain was going to vary and we began our frozen expedition.

Personally, I could care less whether it snows or not when it gets predicted in our area because people have a tendency to lose their f#&$ing minds over the stuff. The hype spreads like wildfire all over social media, yet it never melts away anything but my patience. This snow was different however. Silence filled the air as the wind blew fresh precipitation in our path. Crunching footsteps and our conversations were the only things filling the void aside from the occasional car passing by. We walked from our backroad all the way into the town of Dallas, where we took shelter under a gazebo to wipe the snow from our sunglasses and faces. To take a deep breath was to take in a fresh burst of frozen air that was almost refreshing in comparison to snow in the past. Again, this snow was different.

“Well we’ve made it this far. Let’s go to the Starbucks at Ingles.”, I told my wife. With a surprised look she agreed and we walked further into town and further away from home. To see downtown covered under a white sheet like this became a great time I didn’t expect to have and we were not alone in this mindset. As we passed the local library we waved at several families walking away from Ingles with grocery bags in hand, talking with one another and having a great time. Even in retrospect, I can’t help but wonder what it was about this snow that was so different.

We made it to the store and got coffee to warm us from the inside out. Once the barista had our coffee ready, we grabbed a couple of things since we were out and made our way back outside. We walked through the neighborhoods within town to come home instead of down the main road as we did when we began our journey. There was an eerie silence amid our crunchy footsteps this time, but still enjoyable nonetheless. The neighborhoods weave between one another but they all lead home if you know where to take a left turn. We were relieved to be back on the main road and close to our apartment, as our legs were beginning to get tired.

As we made our way down into the parking lot of our apartment complex, I was amazed at how good of a time I had just walking in the snow with my wife, taking in the sights and sounds of winter and our conversations of the weather and beyond. It really kind of made me grateful for my life for once. Grateful for time with my wife. Grateful to live in a small town where we could walk to the store in five miles (roundtrip). Grateful to be alive and take in a deep breath of cold, refreshing air. I think this snow was different because I know that when it melts, part of the old me will melt with it and my life will somehow be new and clean.

Bucket List

By now I’m almost certain that all the Christmas trees are put away or thrown out, the leftovers are all gone (or gone bad), the toys have all been played with and forgotten, and the “new year, new me” is now the “same old, mundane”. Personally, I have never done very well with resolutions and to be honest with you I didn’t set any goals for myself. As a matter of fact, I expect nothing of this year.

I have new hobbies like writing for you guys and gals, as well as continuing to go to the gym on a regular basis. These added to work and school can make life hectic at times, but I think I want to try new things that go beyond resolutions. I think I am ready to begin some life changing to better myself and to challenge my anxieties. I turned twenty-five this past December and when people hear that, they always say that I have my whole life ahead of me. I think something has awakened within me recently that makes me more aware of the fact that they are right.

Despite the popularity of the term “bucket list” with this type of mentality, I don’t feel as though this is what I’m craving. Yes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a list of things to do before you die, but why just end it there? The list I want to make create new ideas, thoughts, and habits for a better and fearless life. I want to begin to push myself to realize that I can do anything with enough focus. Everyday things that people do on a regular basis that would push me over the edge are just the beginning.

If you have ever met me, you may know me to be a person who typically “goes with the flow” of things. I tend to take life as it happens and see how things play out. With that being said, I don’t have very many items on the list yet. The few things in mind are going to be challenging and I am very excited to have you along for the ride to read all about it. Make sure to subscribe to stay updated on my adventures and make it a great day!

Do I Need Help?

I don’t want to be stuck in a cloud. I don’t want to go through the motions of day to day life without actually being in the present moment. I don’t want to need pills to be able to be myself. Getting help feels like a death sentence because you are throwing yourself into the machine we all know as Big Pharma. These are several notions that one may feel when it comes to choosing to get help for anxiety. Yes, there are medicines out there that will turn you into the walking dead but you DO NOT have to submit yourself to something that will kill who you are to be happy.

If you have read my first post or my introduction page, you know that I used to self medicate through alcohol. Keeping a buzz on my days off meant that I could live to fight another day. I had always convinced myself that this was MY battle and I was going to face it in MY own way. In my mind, the doctors only wanted my insurance money and I was not about to be just another statistic you hear about on the news. Several months later, I write this with a clear mind and with hopes that I can help someone who is struggling.

As you may have read, I found myself on the floor of my apartment with a sore throat and swollen eyes from screaming and crying. I begged for my life to end over the thought of finishing math homework. Something so little caused me to go into a rage that I can only imagine one would go into over a life threatening situation. Alcohol wasn’t enough to stop the panic attack from happening. My mind became flooded with questions. What the hell was that? What do I do now? Is this going to happen again? What am I going to tell my wife? Am I going to tell my wife? Should I go to a doctor?

When my wife came home from work that night, I explained to her what happened and tried not to make myself sound like a psycho. We both agreed that this was something that needed to be addressed by a professional so I made an appointment to see my primary care physician. I was armed to defend myself from Big Pharma. Despite my screaming plea, I was not ready to die or be treated like a Daryl Dixon trophy. On the big day, I hung my head and filled out the questionnaires they give asking the severity of your anxiety and depression. The doctor came in and I told her about the attack. I told her of my day to day stress and about my binge drinking. Honestly, if I would have swallowed my pride long ago, I would be a much happier person for it.

She prescribed 10 mgs of Lexapro. It takes several weeks for your brain to use the medicine the way that it is intended but it uses serotonin that you make naturally and puts it to good use. I began to feel better than I ever had on the bottle. I’m not going to lie, initially it was a slight placebo effect because my anxiety was validated but it did leave a lasting effect. I finally understood how it felt to be a normal person without a vice.

As a disclaimer, getting on medicine like this is NOT a cure all. It’s not a happy pill that suddenly makes the world a “Steamboat Willie” cartoon. Because it uses your natural chemicals, it may take awhile to get the proper dosage for you. For example, I am currently on 20 mgs of Lexapro and also 7.5 mgs of Buspirone because I had several instances where I plateaued and needed increases on the dose to help from falling into old habits where I felt I had to find a vice. Yes, I have had panic attacks while on the medicine. Yes, I have missed the bottle as well, but I can leave it behind now without thinking twice. I can also face waking up in the morning and actually making the day great without force. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, I’m not telling you to make an appointment right now to get help but I am saying that there are options out there that won’t force you into an emotional grave. Good luck out there and make it a great day!

The Temptress

Every time I go to the store she glances at me; watching and waiting to see if I make the first move. Her stare is almost intoxicating in itself, let alone if I give in. She knows I want this to happen. Besides, who doesn’t give in to cheap thrills every once in awhile?

Years ago when we first met, we didn’t hit it off very well. She was so different from anything I had ever experienced before. It was easy to walk away back then but people get older and tastes change. When I got bored with the same old thing I found her. 

She has always been a temptress. She is known to wreck homes and lives without warning. She knows she feels good in your hands. Depending on where she is, she can be high class or social in low places. She is well known and that’s half the thrill.

As I pass, I remember great times and low moments we shared. From pain to celebration, I held her through a lot. She brought out a different man in me. She loved me to press my fingers into her neck as my lips caressed hers. She could take advantage of my mind and heart and I could toss her out before anyone ever knew. However on certain days, her taste is what I miss the most.

Who is this temptress? The home wrecker? The enemy of innocence? I’m sure you have met her once or twice. If you want a good time, grab her by the top and take her to the register. She won’t mind at all. Her name is Sierra Nevada and she’s twenty-four ounces of a road you never knew you wanted to get off of. Please drink responsibly.

Intros and Welcomes

Welcome to my first post! This is probably going to be your typical “this is what I’m about” and then we’ll jump into the crazy together.

So for those who don’t know me, I’m Shelton and it’s nice to meet you! I grew up on the outskirts of a small town in North Carolina called Mount Holly and had a great childhood. My parents were awesome and always did their best to provide for me. My brother and I have a ten year age gap between us and he was also a great influence in my life. Small town life was pretty dull at times, especially when you don’t live in the city limits but I stayed out of trouble for the most part by playing out in the woods or riding my bike around my grandmothers’ neighborhood. Life is always so much better in hindsight.

In high school at the end of my tenth grade year, I met this cute blonde in my choir class that changed my life forever. I awkwardly messaged her on Facebook one day just to see what she would reply. We talked about tanning and kept the conversation going for almost ten years now. She loves me in a way that I can only describe as the way love should be. Despite my past mistakes and ones I make on a daily basis, we were married in 2016 and she tells me she loves me every night. It’s kind of like that Eric Church song says; she loves me like Jesus does.

I tell you all of this to sort of paint a picture of the good in my life. I’m an average full time, blue collar worker for Owens Corning. I’m a part time distance education student for East Carolina University. I’m a proud pet parent to the cutest dog on the planet and the sweetest guinea pig I’ve ever met. Despite all these great things… I am an anxious wreck. I panic in social situations. I don’t travel well for feeling trapped in the car without an escape. The feeling of needing a bathroom break triggers small panic attacks. I hate people who I have never met for their lack of consideration of others, or their premature judgements of others. I am soooooo slooooow at almost everything I do out of fear of completing tasks wrong and I in turn hate myself for all of this and then some. A solid eighty percent of the time, I’m a self loathing piece of shit. So how does one cope with this? To put it simply, alcohol.

In a small town, alcohol is pretty easy to come by so my habit began at 14 years old. To make a long story short, we’ll fast forward to ten years later where a twenty-four year old is face down on the living room floor in a cold sweat, screaming to die after a math assignment became too much to take and I had just finished the last of my fifth of Ezra Brooks. I had just paced my apartment, throwing notebooks along the way while pulling at my hair. My eyes began to swell with tears as I made my way to the floor and after a gut wrenching scream, the tears receded. I looked at my carpet and looked around as if to find an explanation as to what the hell just happened, or who the stranger was that had just left. The only thing I knew is that whatever it was, it wasn’t me.

I went to the doctor the next day and was put on Lexapro, a medicine that uses the serotonin that the body makes naturally and makes use of it instead of harboring it (if that makes sense). The medicine helps a lot and after several months of taking it, I have noticed a significant difference in my quality of life. I finally have a sense of what it is to do “normal” things without freaking out or going into a panic. That’s not without saying that I don’t have bad days, but who doesn’t? I haven’t touched liquor since that first doctors’ appointment and beer is only enjoyed at restaurants, hence the name Out to Dry.

I want to make one thing clear as I wrap up this post. I am not a basket case. I am not a lunatic or dangerous. This is not a pity party blog. This is a blog to discuss anxiety and rehabilitation through the eyes of someone taking life a day at a time. This is also a blog where you will read original short stories and poetry as an outlet. And on a personal level, this is a blog to keep a journal of my day to day thoughts. Please feel free to contact me, to like or dislike posts, and subscribe (I’m not a monetized blog)! Thank you for your attention and I look forward to this new adventure!