Autumn Leaves / 5 Year Anniversary

In January of 2014, I stopped taking Adderall.

After taking it daily for so many years, I had become completely tolerant to the drug and the amphetamines no longer provided the stimulation necessary to live my life. Nothing else had ever helped me, so I figured this was the only thing I could do. I didn’t know how long it would take to undo the tolerance, but figured I was in for at least 8 months of withdrawal.

2014 was a very dark year. Back when everything hit me at once as a teenager I ended up spending a couple weeks in a psych hospital, but since then I’ve had a grip on things and although I may have some depression or anxiety, I could always keep myself within the realm of rational thought. However, if you’ve ever read anything about the psychological effects of solitary confinement, you know that it quickly turns sane men crazy and crazy men well, crazier. I spent every day sleeping for 12-15 hours, only crawling out of bed for a single meal. I had grown apart from old friends by this point anyway, but not being able to get out of bed meant I was further isolated from the many online friends I had at the time.

In April, I received a large package in the mail for my birthday from a good friend that kept my going. I pushed through, and after many months of this I recognized that I had plateaued. It was time for me to dip my toe back into the waters of stimulants, very carefully. I started taking Adderall 2 days a week, giving me just enough time to get through a single college course.

By this time I had already achieved my Bachelors in Psychology, but wasn’t sure where to go from there. I realized I couldn’t work, so I figured all I could do to maintain some semblance of progress would be to continue going to school. My plan was to go for a Masters in Computer Science, but in order to be eligible to switch I had to take a couple computer courses in the interim. I signed up for Assembly Programming and was on my way.

As I was walking to class one day from the parking lot, I noticed something strange… I felt something. I noticed the colors all around me in a way I never had before. For my entire life those around me have been pointing out scenes in nature: snow, trees, leaves, etc. I’d look and sure, it looked nice, but I never understood why people made a big deal about it.

For the first time, I understood.

I guess it had been years since my brain’s dopamine receptors weren’t completely fried because I hadn’t felt anything like that in a long time. In fact, a big reason why I enjoyed getting shit-faced in my early 20s was because it allowed me to feel. I’d put headphones on and music would sound so good some nights it nearly brought me to tears… but that wasn’t sustainable. Alcohol would provide a few hours of comfort at the price of a day and a half of hangover. This was the beginning of me figuring out a healthier way to treat my symptoms.

Autumn 2014 was the beginning of me finding things to enjoy in life. Years ago, my girlfriend described me by saying I “openly dislike everything,” and she wasn’t wrong. I was miserable and wanted to drag everyone else down to my level. That’s no way to live, though. To this day I am chasing the experiences I enjoy and making up for lost time.

 

 

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The view from the parking lot to the computer building.

The leaves looked nice enough on this day but weren’t as striking as I imagined so I took some additional photos, first around my old neighborhood and then my current one.

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The street I grew up on.
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Driving back to my current home.

Constipation 10/28/2019

Every time I think I’ve figured out all the ways my body can work against me, it always throws me a curveball.

I have photographs sitting in folders ready to go for more elaborate posts but I’ve been laser-focused on Halloween stuff this month, so they’ll happen in a bit. For now, here’s an impromptu post about number two.

I’ve never understood people that spend an hour in the bathroom. They read books, they play on their phone, they have entire experiences in there. Me? I’m there to conduct business and that’s it. In and out. Despite the fact that certain meds I use are known to cause constipation, I’ve always been locked and loaded and ready to go. In fact, in recent years I couldn’t have held back if I wanted to when nature calls.

Every week, it was the same story: I’d take my first Adderall dose after a couple days off to rest and give my brain a break. It was very obvious to me when it started kicking in. It wasn’t the alertness, it wasn’t the physical energy, it was a sudden need to get to the bathroom. This feeling was so desperate that I had to plan my life around it. In the early years of my “revival” I learned the hard way that waking up and leaving immediately was asking for trouble. I’d be driving to an allergy shot appointment a mere 10 minutes away when things started “kicking” in. I didn’t know if this place had a bathroom but I figured it out quickly – bottom floor. I became well-acquainted with this bathroom before learning to allow for enough time at home before taking matters on the road.

Over the past couple weeks, I don’t know what happened. Sure, my diet has been awful but it’s been awful for most of the year. At some point since getting j-j-j-jacked last year I thought I’d take a weekend off my healthier diet, well that weekend became several months. Actually this is great, it gives me an excuse to show off that pic of me at peak beefcake:

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~September 2018. You’re damn right I’m proud of this. After a lifetime of trying and failing, I figured out how to exercise consistently without wrecking myself. I had to stop and start again a few times, but eventually overcame. It took much precious energy to continue, but this remains an accomplishment and I’ve maintained much strength to this day, resulting in less muscle pain.

Back to present day (as long as I have this pic, people will assume I still look like this under my shirt), at first I was still having an easy time in the bathroom but the urge was striking me at hours I wasn’t used to. Then, it was taking me minutes… and effort… to get the job done. Tonight was the worst I’ve ever experienced. I spent 45 minutes in there earlier feeling like this thing was never going to resolve itself. Before you constipation pros start giving me tips, I tried everything: relaxing, pushing, leaning, bending, everything. I eventually made as much progress as I was going to but knew there was work left to be done. I downed a bottle of Magnesium Citrate I’ve had in a drawer from before I stopped taking Tylenol #4s. Those prescription painkillers would result in awful constipation and stomach pain every time. Kratom dulls the pain without any negative effects, maybe some mild constipation but nothing I couldn’t overcome. I didn’t know if I was ever going to need that bottle, but I’m glad that I did.

Hours later I felt confident enough to go back and finish the job. I hope things never get to this level again, and I’ll probably have to make some changes. This cannot continue.

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I wish I had a clip to share, I re-watched the debut of Undercover Boss last week. I only ever watched that single episode when it debuted but it stuck with me. The boss of the Waste Management company went undercover as a new employee to work several entry-level jobs to see how things really were in his company. Among the people he interacted with was this guy Fred. Fred’s job was sucking the shit out of porta-potties with a huge vacuum attached to the truck. Yeah. Sounds terrible right? Fred had the boss smiling and laughing him while training him to do this. He had some great quotes, one was something like “I call it ‘The Battlefield of Poop. We’re soldiers. Sometimes you get wounded, you get a little splatter on you, but you gotta keep goin!” Well Fred, your words rang true for me tonight.

…that pic of me above looks even better surrounded by this shitty story.

NJPW NYC & Insomnia 9/28-9/30

See those dates? I’ve been awake this entire time.

I talk a lot about the fun experiences I’ve been having as it’s a still big deal for me, but sometimes these trips come at a price which is important to understand. This (amazing) trip’s price was what will be 40 hours without sleep.

Those that haven’t taken stimulants can’t relate to this. Why not just close my eyes? It doesn’t work like that. It’s not until ~36h from the last dose that the “wakefulness” will wear off and start to fall asleep. You hear about meth heads staying awake for a week at a time or whatever, so whats a couple days? I’m dosing to take as little as possible in order to function, they’re taking as much as possible without dying. It’s enough to keep me awake, not enough to make me content staring at the wall for a week. As soon as a few hours have passed I’m strapped into another 30h that suuuuuck.

The good news? This used to happen every couple of weeks, but now it’s been years since I went through this. I made a mistake packing and didn’t have what I needed, a mistake I won’t repeat.

Time goes on, I discover new treatments and behaviors, recognize patterns, tackle symptoms. For example, a few years ago this type of insomnia came with fairly severe muscle pain… but now I’ve got my pain quite under control. Discomfort? Hell yeah, I can’t wait until this is over. But for now, it serves as a reminder of progress. This sucks, but I used to go through much worse so I’ll be good. Plus… there are things to look forward to now.

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It was all worth it for this view.

 

My point: the risk of paying the price is absolutely worth it. I made some great memories. But it’s important to know that I don’t post pictures of myself shaking with a brains-shaped jello mold nearby in case I need something to puke in. That’s part of the story too.

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If the Rock & Roll Express can dive out of the ring at 63-years-old for 3 nights in a row, I’ll be fine.

How I Quit Smoking via Vaping (Then Quit Vaping)

With all this vaping bullshit in the news lately, I feel compelled to tell the story of how I quit smoking – something I thought I’d never do.

(Note: I originally typed this up to be a Facebook post before deciding to post it here. Keep that in mind if anything’s worded strangely.)

I was 14 years old and had just been through the wringer. All of the ME/CFS symptoms started hitting me hard, one after another, quite severely. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong and without a label for the illness, I was treated like some punk kid that just didn’t want to go to school. The physical discomfort, lack of sleep, and the way I was being treated messed me up and I need a distraction… FAST. At that time I didn’t use drugs, didn’t drink, wasn’t having sex. Hell, I hadn’t even discovered masturbation until years later! With no way to escape, I started doing anything that would take my mind off of things for even a minute which usually manifested itself via self-harm. I found it cathartic to take walks in the middle of the night and one night, I stole one of my brother’s Black & Mild cigars, a couple cigs, and tried them while on my walk. I liked it so I started smoking when I’d go to the mall every week, too. Before I knew it, I was hooked.

For the next ~15 years of my life, every day I awoke to the same dilemma: Where was I going to get the money to pay for today’s pack?

Smokers are very particular about their brand and I got myself hooked on expensive, brand name Marlboro 100s. I could find the $5 needed by picking up cans at Ted Williams’ Park (if someone recently threw a party there, jackpot!), grabbing loose change, or selling some of my CDs. However, MA started taxing cigs heavily and the price kept skyrocketing.

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A portrait my ex drew of me titled “Ignore the Smoke.”

To those around me I became an annoyance at best and a burden, liar, or thief at worst. Usually people only resort to lying/stealing when they’re hooked on more expensive hard drugs like meth or heroin, but since I was too sick to work, I had to lie/steal to fund my nicotine addiction. I stole money from my parents’ stash, grabbed any loose change left unguarded at friends’ hoses, whatever it took. If my current pack was running out and I had no money, I’d try to space out my cig breaks but the anxiety just made me want to smoke even more… and those times when I did run out, I was completely miserable.

I didn’t realize it at the time but it turns out my addiction was extra strong because of my meds used to treat the fatigue/brain fog. Adderall is a mic of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine, and amphetamines flood the brain with dopamine making you want (NEED) to feed your addictions even more.

I hated dealing with the daily anxiety and being a dick to those around me but I was certain that I was going to keep smoking until I died. I tried Chantix and while it helped reduce my smoking, I was still heaving 1-3 cigs a day and couldn’t bring myself to stop completely. Nicotine gum didn’t help. Cold turkey was out of the question.

After yet ANOTHER tax hike brought the cost of a pack to $11, I realized I could no longer afford it and had to change something. I had 2 options: start rolling my own cigs or switch to vaping. Luckily, there are some startup costs with the former which I couldn’t afford. My friend Amanda had switched to vaping just a year or two prior and offered to send me an e-cig in the mail. She was a good friend in many regards, but I consider mailing me that e-cig the biggest favor she ever did for me. I didn’t switch immediately, but I’d use the e-cig to reduce the amount of cigs I was smoking. Plus, if I ran out of cigs, I knew I at least had the vape.

I decided I was going to make the switch for good. Like breaking any habit, it felt weird for some weeks but I got used to it. Not long after that, I couldn’t have smoked a cig if I wanted to without feeling sick. This was a step in the right direction but vaping had its own challenges, the biggest one being that there’s no “end” to a vape break unlike cigs have a physical end to them. As a result people end up vaping all day. I worried that this might make my nicotine addiction worse but hey, at least it was safer and cheaper.

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I smoked Marlboro 100s, a lengthier version of the classic Marlboro Reds formerly known as King Marlboros. For this reason, I was referred to as the “King Smoker” by my friend Dan.

I started vaping juice with 16mg of Nicotine since this was closest to what’s in a normal cig. Over time, I would buy juice with lower nicotine content – 16mg, then 12mg, 8mg, etc. I never noticed any difference. I knew from experiences with certain prescription drugs like Effexor that the hardest part was going to be taking that last step to 0mg. To ease into it I started by mixing 3mg juice with 0mg gradually until I hit 0mg. I vaped 0mg juice for a week and realized I had done it… I had weaned off nicotine!

Now all that was left to do was break the habit of bringing a stick to my mouth and puffing on it. I vaped 0mg juice for months. Then, while packing for a trip to my cousin’s wedding in Indianapolis, I decided to leave my e-cig behind. I didn’t miss it and I never looked back.

It also helped that I hated being seen vaping. Once I took a vape break outside of Rick’s and this kid comes up to me all excited “HEY BRO, WHAT KINDA MOD IS THAT MAN? SICK!” I was like “I don’t fucking know I’m just trying to quit smoking!” It’s funny, cigs are unhealthy and smell gross, but were considered cool because they were associated with rock/movie stars. On the other hand, vaping is relatively harmless, smells nice, but is very uncool due to who it’s associated with. Some people need to realize that blowing a big cloud doesn’t mean you have a big cock.

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Look at this chump and his excessive vape cloud.

I’ve found when it comes to quitting smoking, everyone’s different. Chantix works for a lot of people and that’s a useful tool. Some people can’t quit gradually, they NEED to go cold turkey. Others, like me, are best off doing the vape+taper method.

I did a ton of research when I started vaping, much like I do when I research different meds. Long story short, there’s little if anything to worry about. The chemical causing popcorn lung used to be in certain dessert-flavored juices but once that became known, companies stopped selling those or using it. All the scary stories in the news of e-cigs exploding in pockets were due to those people using custom/modified batteries and didn’t understand what they were doing. The only cause for concern at all really is the nicotine. If someone new to vaping chooses to vape anything but 0mg juice, I’d consider that a stupid decision. Don’t believe the bullshit. Don’t believe “gut feelings.” Believe the facts, the science. The “vaping deaths” that occurred were all from the use of black market THC cartridges. Banning vaping completely because of that would be the equivalent of banning coffee because a few people took too many caffeine pills and had heart attacks.

I cannot overstate how much I appreciate being free of that fucking burden. On days that I feel shitty and find myself starting to bitch, there are a couple things I think of to put things in perspective and remind myself that things aren’t too bad:

#1: At least my balls don’t hurt.

#2: At least I’m not addicted to nicotine and smoking anymore.

Top 5 Experiences of 2019

I’ve really come to appreciate the value of making memories and having experiences over the past few years. My policy is if I have the opportunity to do something, I always do it. Maybe it’ll be physically challenging at times but in the long run, the brain emphasizes good memories and de-emphasizes bad ones. If I attend a kickass concert I won’t remember my back hurting when I reflect later on, I’ll just remember the fun I had. With that in mind, I’ve gone absolutely nuts this year – and we’re only 8 months in so far.

#1: G1 Supercard – Madison Square Garden – New York City, NY – April 6, 2019

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I decided that I was going to Wrestlemania and was in the process of putting the trip together when I noticed that there was going to be a big show going down the night before. Non-fans might wonder what the point is when I’d be going to whats basically the Super Bowl of wrestling the next night. It’s a different style. WWE is “sports-entertainment,” glitz and glamour, characters and gimmicks. This show was put on by a joint effort of Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, known for more of an athletic, hard-hitting, high-flying form of wrestling… and wow, did it live up to that description.

Ring of Honor has been around since the early 2000s and is basically the first big step on the way to the top. Many of the guys in WWE right now were in ROH 10-15 years ago. NJPW has been around since 1972 and is the biggest promotion in Japan. Slowly with ROH’s help they’ve been going global putting on shows all over the world and releasing content catering to an English-speaking audience.

I’ve never watched much ROH but have always been aware of them. I started watching NJPW’s biggest shows over the past couple years and have always liked what I saw. Again, their hard-hitting athletic style keeps you on the edge of your seat never knowing when the match might end. What I love the most about NJPW though are the entrances. The dimly-lit arenas contrast with the laser lights and hit my brain just right. I never thought I’d get to experience that in person without going to Japan! Take a look for yourself.

This was a historic show because MSG has been WWE’s home turf since at least the 50’s. There have been disagreements lately about royalty fees for taping shows there, so WWE backed out of their contract and ROH/NJPW swooped in, putting on the first non-WWE wrestling event.

Favorite moment: Bandido picks up both of his opponents on the top rope before hitting an amazing backflip slam.

#2: J-Sin Trioxin Tribute – Debonair Music Hall – Teaneck, NJ – June 30, 2019

trioxin.jpgBack in 2003, I was trying to get involved with horror punk bands and labels in any way possible. I’d send letters with a few bucks in the envelope to labels asking them to send back catalogs. I’d offer to make websites, design flyers, anything. I didn’t actually know how to do any of that stuff, but I figured it out on the fly. One day I saw that a big horror punk show was going down in Baltimore, MA that summer called Ghoul’s Night Out Fest 3.

In 2003 I had been through the wringer between all these sudden, severe health problems, losing touch with friends because I could no longer go to school, a brief stay in a psych hospital… so I figured this would be a good time to ask my parents for a favor. They agreed, found some stuff they wanted to do in that area, and off we went. There I was able to finally meet in person these bands that I had been in contact with over the internet. J-Sin Trioxin had just started playing bass for Blitzkid, one of my favorite bands in the horror scene at this time.

Sadly, J-Sin died last year at the age of 39. This show was to celebrate what would have been his 40th birthday. Members of his family were there including his mother who was brought to tears when she saw how many lives he touched.

As I was getting into horror punk, I read that the Misfits had a singer I’d never heard of named Myke Hideous. He wasn’t with them long, just filled in on a few tours. I explored his discography and liked everything I heard, he has a very unique sound. Once I read his autobiography, I really started liking the guy. He too had health problems throughout his life, dealing with cancer and the effects of its treatments. At this point in my life I felt very isolated. I was very sick yet being treated like an asshole as ME/CFS was even less understood then than it is now. Myke was the first person I identified with who was doing the types of things I wanted to do.

I had been in contact with Myke in recent years through Facebook. He quit the music scene many years ago, preferring to leave the bullshit behind. Pretty much every shocking reunion has happened by now, but I thought Myke was truly done. When I saw him post about a reunion show, I bought a ticket immediately.

I’ve never cared about autographs but I thought it’d be cool for Myke to sign my straight jacket. He was the first musician I saw use one as part of a performance, even before I started getting into Alice Cooper.

Favorite moment: Being able to stand front row center, something I never thought I’d be able to do at a concert, for a musician I never thought I’d be able to see.

#3: Wrestlemania 35 – MetLife Stadium – East Rutherford, NJ – April 7, 2019

wrestlemania.jpgMy two main goals for 2018 were to get into better shape through gradual exercise and to make/save more money. I had a trip late in mind for late that year that I knew may or may not work out. Turns out it didn’t, so I needed to find something big to do with the money I’d saved up. I saw that Wrestlemania was going to be within driving distance and I was off to the races.

Since WCW died in 2001, WWE hasn’t had any real competition. The shows started really suffering as a result, especially over the past few years. Each show felt more like a commercial for their brands and the network. I started watching less and less. However, I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to go to Wrestlemania!

The main theme of the show was that the fans were pulling for certain wrestlers that had put in a lot of work over the years but never got their just due. Everybody wanted to see Kofi Kingston defeat Daniel Bryan for the World Championship, and for Becky Lynch to win the Women’s Championship. The crowd got their wish and the place erupted into a sea of cheers.

Here’s Joan Jett playing Ronda Rousey to the ring in the main event.

Favorite moment: The overall atmosphere, the sights and sounds, fireworks… Wrestlemania!

#4: Niagara Falls / Buffalo Trip – August 3-5, 2019

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My dad and I wanted to go somewhere over the summer but couldn’t decide what to do. There were too many variables. Maybe we’d meet up with some of the Missouri family somewhere, maybe my brother would be joining us, maybe we’d go to Philly, Gettysburg, we didn’t know.

I got my passport last year for a trip that didn’t pan out – they wanted me to send in extra stuff to confirm my identity and the process took too long for the trip in mind… perhaps the fact that at that point I’d never filed taxes was the reason why. In any event, I got my passport and I wanted to use it.

I knew my dad was going to be taking that week off, so I sat myself down and proposed a trip exploring the area. Originally I included Toronto in the trip, but the more I read about Buffalo/Niagara Falls area, the more I realized there would be plenty to do there alone. Luckily a friend of mine sent me a list of things to do since she has spent a lot of time in that area, which helped me put a map together.

As a bonus, after getting back home we took a day trip with my mom to Hull, MA. Hull’s been on my radar for years for a secluded, concrete military fort there.

Favorite moment: Maid of the Mist boat ride under the falls.

#5: Bit Brigade – PAX East / Great Scott – Boston, MA / Allston, MA – March 30, 2019 / August 7, 2019

This was the third year in a row that I attended PAX East, a video game convention in Boston. Since you have to be on your feet the whole day it can be tough. The first year I was only there a few hours. This time, I was there all day.

As the day was coming to a close I heard that a concert would be taking place, so I got in line. I’ve always been a fan of old school video game music. I’ve played some songs on guitar, but my favorite thing to do is play drums over medleys of old video game tunes. There are a lot of video game cover bands out there but most overdo it with modern metal components like double bass drumming and pinch harmonics which isn’t my style. My favorite video game band has always been The Minibosses that play more of a straight rock style. As soon as Bit Brigade started playing I noticed that they sound almost identical to The Minibosses, but with a bonus: they also have somebody speed running the game on a big screen while they play the soundtrack!

Unfortunately, I had to leave halfway through their set at PAX so I could catch the last train back home. I’ve kept them on my radar since then and luckily they came back to do a show on August 7th. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go or not because I had just finished that tiring road trip, plus I spent the early hours of the day in Hull. I eventually decided that yes, I was going to go. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Favorite moment: Contra, one of my favorites that I grew up with. Can you recite the Konami Code?

Learning to Live with My New Brain

When someone loses a limb, they have to learn to walk with their new prosthetic. Similarly, when I started finding the right medications in 2015/2016, I had to learn how to go through life with my new brain.

If you’ve ever had any friends that show symptoms of mania (such as in bipolar disorder) then you know how unnerving their never-ending stream of thoughts can be. Excess dopamine in the brain can result in things like mania and schizophrenia, and that’s exactly how the stimulants I take work – they end up causing my brain to pump out a lot of dopamine. ME/CFS causes me to lack both physical and mental energy. Fortunately, the treatment provides both… unfortunately, they’re given in uneven amounts. Each dose grants me about 4 hours of physical energy and 24-36 hours of mental energy and wakefulness. As a result, at the end of the day I often lay in bed and type way too much. I’ll no longer have the energy to feel like doing anything beyond laying in bed, but my brain is still going at full speed and I end up typing a lot.

As I’ve explained before the first step I took to start figuring my issues out was giving my brain a year’s rest away from Adderall because it was the only medication that ever provided me with energy, but I had become too tolerant and it no longer worked. When I started using it again, it was working again I finally had some energy to get things done… but I had too much.

I had grown apart from my real life friends for many years but I had some online friends I had been close to during those years. Despite the mania, I at least knew to keep my crazy thoughts out of the public eye, so what did I do? I spammed my friends’ private messages – two friends in particular, Sher and Amanda. It wasn’t uncommon for me to leave them 100-300 messages over the course of the night, which they would wake up to. Amanda told me she had to start muting her phone before going to sleep because my messages would vibrate the phone until it fell off her bedside table. She didn’t mind, though. In fact, both of them were either extremely patient good friends or they found my rants interesting enough to keep read. Sher told me she would read my messages on the train on her way to school. Regardless, I had an outlet for my runaway thoughts and an audience to receive them.

I quickly noticed a problem, however, I’m not always a manic maniac. I started cycling my meds to avoid tolerance occuring again so I’d go from my brain working overtime at the peak of my med cycle to becoming a braindead zombie at the low point. I’d leave messages and ask questions that I wouldn’t feel like responding to or following up with by the time they responded. These two polar opposite versions of me struggled to form the collective unit you know as Adam. Zombie Adam hated dealing with the problems that Crazy Adam created and vice-versa.

Side note: any close friends of mine know that I use a couple slang terms to refer to my two mental states. If I’m all stimulated and manic I say that I’m “blasting,” and if I’m on the other end then I’m “crashing.” Blast and crash, that’s my life. At first I was very careful and only blasted 2-3 times per week but I eventually worked my way up to my current cycle which is typically 5 days of blast, 2 days of crash.

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When I returned from the bathroom at a Judas Priest concert and glanced up at the big screen, I thought the universe was speaking directly to me. In addition to the “blast” connection, I also use “Master” in many online aliases, including my eBay/Etsy shops.

I realized I needed to set some rules if I was going to resemble a functional human being. If I knew that I was going to spend the next day or two crashing then I would have to avoid leaving any open-ended conversations because I wouldn’t feel like dealing with them when I woke up the next day. Early on it was difficult to stick to this because I felt like all my thoughts were very important and needed to be said. After all, it had been many years since I felt anything at all… I needed to express myself! After a couple years though, I felt like I got most of the important stuff out. Nowadays I mostly stick to this rule but occasionally still screw up and leave myself a mess to clean up on my rest days. Beyond that, instead of firing off messages directly to friends I instead type up my messages in Notepad and wait on them for a bit. If they’re still important to me later on then I’ll know they’re worth sending. I’ve also gravitated towards chats where I can type as much as I want without needing to follow up later. I’m using Discord less and less (every time you open it, you’re bombarded with notifications) in favor of IRC, where the conversations end as soon as I stop chatting.

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Here are the stats for #chat in IRC. As you can see, I (Barrydarsow) am by far the most active user. The stats here are recorded over a span of the past 14 days: https://chanstat.net/stats/rizon/%23chat

This all allows me to handle the mania well enough. What else?

When I added high dose Baclofen to the cocktail, things got more interesting. After giving my brain a rest for a year, I had a couple college classes I needed to finish up. I’ll never forget walking to class from the parking lot during an autumn month and thinking that the leaves looked strange. They were… beautiful? My mom had been pointing out nature scenes to me for my entire life but I never understood what the big deal was. Yeah, the sky is pretty. So? This was different though… I felt it! As I exited my car and walked to the classroom, the surrounding autumn leaves filled me with a strange emotion I’d never felt before, or at least hadn’t felt in a long time. It was a positive emotion.

As time went on I started enjoying many other things. To put things in perspective, let me explain what I surrounded myself with during my worst years. I disliked anything new or unfamiliar, it took effort and brain power – which I didn’t have – to process and understand these things. As a result I stuck to what was familiar. There were many years where I listened to nothing but Black Sabbath. To vary it up, I joined a message board where people share recordings of live shows. I built up a collection of dozens of shows for every tour they did from 1970 to 1996. That was my way of keeping things familiar yet fresh, I guess. I watched the same shows on TV, I never left my familiar environment unless I had to, etc.

Now all of a sudden I’m listening to genres of music I never enjoyed before, I’m appreciating art like I never have before, I’m coming up with all these off-the-wall, creative ideas… it’s not just the fact that I was enjoying these things for the first time ever, it’s also the fact that I spent most of my life apart from these things. EVERYTHING was new to me! When I started travelling, even driving 45 minutes away was an adventure because I avoided even leaving my bed for so many years.

Sounds great right? Well, I had to learn to reel myself in so I didn’t seem too crazy in public. Of course I always noticed pretty girls before, but now they were absolutely breathtaking. I needed to either keep quiet or figure out how to give compliments in a way that didn’t come off like “HEY, I WANT TO FUCK YOUR BRAINS OUT WHILE WE LISTEN TO RAGTIME PIANO.” I also needed to always remember that although I might really enjoy something, it doesn’t mean my friends that aren’t on meds that flood their brain with happy chemicals will feel the same way. I can’t go around telling people “Hey, this song is amazing and you need to listen to it right now!” or “Hey, I’m going to drag you to a wrestling show with lots of people, bright lights, and loud music.” I always need to keep my previous mental state in mind so I don’t forget that a lot of people simply like to do what’s comfortable.

[honk]

I started this journey in 2014 when I gave my brain a rest, then started finding the ideal meds for my brain in late 2015. It’s now halfway through 2019 as I write this and I still find myself making mistakes from time to time. I plan the rest the next couple of days because I’m driving to New Jersey for a Horror Punk show on Sunday. I’ve sent at least two messages to friends that I’ll have to deal with tomorrow. I say “at least” because there are always things I forgot that I did until they pop up later (edit: yep, discovered another as I was proofreading). Stimulants trick you into thinking everything is really important and at the time it is… however, I’m always only 24-36 hours away from nothing being important besides uninterrupted rest.

Lastly, fun fact – due to poor sleep last night, I am in a particularly manic state as I write this. It’s difficult to sit my ass down and focus on one thing long enough to come up with a well-written, organized blog entry. It’s much easier to spam an IRC channel in a loose, stream-of-consciousness manner. However, I’m going to try and remain consistent with my blog. I’d like for my thoughts to all be in one place rather than spread across 20 different private messages and chat rooms. We’ll see how long it lasts!

Pride Month 2019

Seeing as it’s Pride Month, I’d like to explain how my health experiences made me sympathize with what the LGBT community goes through.
ME/CFS isn’t an illness like cancer where you’re treated like a brave warrior and hero regardless of how treatable, mild, or severe your form is. You get diagnosed by ruling everything else out that could explain the symptoms (AIDS, Lupus, Lyme Disease, etc). Since there’s no test to “prove” that you’re sick, the illness isn’t taken seriously and people don’t believe that you’re suffering. The situation is a little better now, but back when I got sick in the early 2000s it was awful. Doctors and teachers treated me like some asshole that just didn’t want to come to class, a hypochrondriac, a nut, or that my symptoms were psychosomatic due to some childhood abuse. Their comments got into the heads of my parents who suspected that maybe my symptoms were due to abusing drugs. I was given no help or half-assed help at best. Only occasionally would someone sympathize with me, but it would be someone like a nurse that couldn’t do much in their position.


My stomach pain was at its worst as I struggled to attend freshman year at Apponequet. I’d get snide comments about why I wasn’t eating and was so skinny, calling me anorexic, etc. I was never one to get into fights but a lot of shoving went down that year (I wasn’t going to put up with anyone’s shit on top of everything else). The Principal noticed that I tended to be a loner in the lunchroom so she took me aside and suggested I join the Diversity Coahlition (the newly-renamed Gay/Straight Alliance). I said “I’m sick, I’m not gay!” I’m willing to guess that was her go-to response to any outsider and offered that same half-assed help to any LGBT student trying to make sense of their situation.
As a straight white guy I’ll never know what it’s like to walk a mile in the shoes of a gay man. Also, I grew up in Massachusetts: one of the most tolerant states… so I REALLY don’t know what it’s like to be a gay man growing up in places like the midwest/southern USA, or at worst strict countries in the Middle East. However, I know what it’s like to be treated like shit for something that isn’t your fault and you have zero control over. Due to that, I’ve always felt a sort of kinship with any other groups that have had to deal with the same thing.