Monday, February 19, 2007

I'm Back

I've slacked off on my writing again, so this is bound to be a bit of a catch-up post. Things have been quite busy lately, and change is definitely in the air.

For one thing, I'm my old self again. Like an old friend who shows up unannounced on your doorstep, my personality seems to have returned to the goofy happy-go-lucky guy that manages to annoy the hell out of everyone from time-to-time. It feels good. On second thought, no, it doesn't feel good. It feels great!

I quit taking the Zoloft almost 2 weeks ago. It started out inadvertent (I got busy and forgot to take my pill a couple of days), and things went so well, I decided to take a stab at kicking it entirely.

Zoloft is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), and I knew I was running the very real risk of going into SSRI Withdrawal, which at best can about as much fun as drinking a bottle of Tabasco as a cure for hemorrhoids, and at worst can become a very real danger, so I have been monitoring myself extremely carefully. I have had a few minor symptoms, but by and large, it's been smooth sailing. Honestly, I'll take the lows if I can still have the highs - I'd never make it as a zombie.

Since I quit taking the meds, I've been watching for a return of the original symptoms that caused me to go on them in the first place: anxiety attacks. Thus far, I have not had any trouble at all, and arguably I'm still swimming in stressful waters.

Amidst the divorce, the child custody dispute, a recent move, a blown business partnership, the new job, single parenting, and the other fun stuff in my life, the state of Maryland, in their infinite ineptitude, has proclaimed that since they lost my 2004 tax return, I must owe them $12,225.65. I've tried to keep a positive attitude about it, though. Indeed, I couldn't help laughing when I got a certified letter last week explaining how they were going to offset my federal tax refund (I haven't seen a refund in more years than I can count). I wonder if they'd be as interested in sharing my federal tax debt?

Also last week, an interesting thing happened at work. I got my edge back in a way I haven't had in 6 months or so. At the risk of sounding arrogant, in order to understand what I mean, you have to appreciate that what I do for a living is exceptionally mentally demanding. There are a not a lot of people who are able to do it, and fewer still who are really good at it.

The best way I can describe what I went through is like this: imagine you read books for a living. Then one day you get hit in the head with a baseball, and it blurs your vision. You can still see that there are words there, but they're fuzzy and you can't quite make all of them out. You struggle to understand the big picture, and have trouble following the plot line because you're missing little parts that you can't read. Then one day, just as suddenly, your vision returns to normal. You sit down and begin devouring books, thankful that you can see again. Last week at work, I was able to see again. I even got an "atta boy" from my boss.

So, I'm feeling happy again, which means I'm finally able to look back with a clearer head on the point where things went horribly awry. Like so many things in life, I think the anxiety attacks were the result of a perfect emotional storm rather than a single catalyst event.

I realize now that I pushed myself too hard -- to the breaking point, in fact. I was miserable in my job, yet pushing harder to make more money and gain more prestige in some sort of childish display for my wife.

I'm also realizing now that she was extremely difficult to be married to. I never did feel like I lived up to her expectations. No matter what I did, it wasn't enough. I got to the $125,000 annual salary, but I had to push for more. I nearly drown on my certification SCUBA dive, but I had to push myself to keep doing something that terrifies me to this day in order to keep up with the younger guys who did. In fact, the week I started having anxiety attacks I was supposed to take her SCUBA diving. At the advice of the doctor who put me on the Zoloft, I told her I couldn't do it. She tried to be "understanding", but I came away from the experience feeling like less of a man and sorry that I opened my mouth.

That's all behind me now, though. I've realized that I've paid my dues. So I'm getting older - there's no shame in that. It's much better to be a "has been" than a "never was", or worse yet, a "died trying". I have my legacy, and now I can focus on other things - like my writing. Plus, my new girlfriend makes me feel like a man. That sounds like a very silly thing to say, but it is the truth boiled down and condensed.

I met with the ex late last week to get the paperwork signed. It was the first time I'd seen her in more than a month, and I felt... absolutely nothing. It was rather like running into an old acquaintance I hadn't seen in a while. Things were cordial enough between us, so I can't complain.

That brings me to another interesting point. There is no such things as anonymity on the Internet. Period. I say that with confidence not only because I've worked in this industry for 10 years, but because I have a Master of Information Technology degree in Internet Security.

I have a hit counter on this blog, and among other things, it records interesting statistics about the people who visit and read this site. (Related side note: I also know each time someone follows the link to this blog from the Love & Romance forum of "PBS" because part of the information your browser reports with every page request is the referring URL. [That should cause a stir and a flurry of new posts!])

I should also point out that I recognize the "fingerprint" made by specific people when they visit. With that in mind, I discovered that my ex found and read this blog (you may be interested to know that she spent a lot of time reading the comments you leave for me). I confronted her with it, and she denies it to this day, but the forensic evidence is sufficiently strong enough that it would hold up to scrutiny in a court trial.

So to summarize in two words or less: more progress. As predicted, things have gotten much better and they continue to improve. I think I'm even going to pick up writing in my regular blog again. If you need the URL, email me and I'll share it (please don't post it on PBS).

Thank you for continuing to read. You keep reading, I'll keep writing, and one day we'll realize that the healing process has finished.


Dream Reader said...

Well, it's nice to have you back. You know you can't leave us hanging like this for so long. Some of us depend on you!!
It's so wonderful to hear that you are feeling so much better.
I look forward to reading your posts more often.

Ann said...

so I guess by now you have noticed that I check on you everyday!

NIce to see you hear today.

dedicated blog reader said...

You said "Thank you for continuing to read. You keep reading, I'll keep writing, and one day we'll realize that the healing process has finished."
Is the blog finished?