Weird Dreams

Good Dream Bad DreamI had the most bizarre dream the other night.  I only remember vague details, but what I remember was bad enough.

In the dream, I was at work and there was a “thing” that I needed to hide from everyone.  A colleague had found out, but was in an accident that left him in a coma, and I was relieved that he hadn’t told anyone.  He started to heal (because in the dream, he had super-healing abilities, like Wolverine in X-Men) and, to stop my secret from being revealed, I cut off the top of his skull and adjusted his brain so that he wouldn’t remember.  He woke up and we were talking about the “thing” I was hiding, but he didn’t remember who did it.  I was so relieved, and also terrified that he would eventually remember.

Then, the scene changed and I was with a group of people standing on the roof of a large stadium arena.  An old school friend (who I hadn’t thought about for years) was there, and for some reason he knew about the “thing”, and that I was guilty.  I talked to him for a while and he then, to keep my secret, jumped off the roof of the stadium to the ground below and died.  I remember feeling happy that my secret was not going to be revealed – not sad that my friend had jumped, but happy for myself.

I woke up at that point and felt sick to my stomach about how cold and heartless I had been in the dream.  It took me a while to convince myself that it was only a dream.  I even looked my friend up on Facebook to find that he was okay.  (He is fine, BTW 🙂 )

I have been having vivid and disturbing dreams lately, and I think it is probably down to the work I am doing in therapy.  Therapy can be a wonderful, cathartic experience but it does tend to unearth some deep feelings that the brain has to work out.  I have old, deep, feelings of guilt, shame and fear that I have been dealing with lately so it is no surprise that these things are manifesting in my dreams.  I wasn’t going to blog about this, but I changed my mind because, well, screw it.  I am not afraid anymore to express my fears and anxiety and face rejection or judgement, thanks to a supportive family and good therapy.

If you do want to judge me, go ahead, enjoy yourself.  Oh, and also GFY! 🙂

Forgiveness

Let’s talk about love.  Love comes in various forms:- love for parents, love for a spouse, love for a child, love for a favorite fruit pie etc.  I consider myself a very loving person, except for one area of love – love for myself.  This is an area that just doesn’t come easy for me.  I often feel inadequate and not “good enough” – this and other lies that my depression makes me buy into.

I am currently going through therapy to talk about various issues from my past, some of which directly contribute to my depression.  On thing that seems to come up is the guilt I carry around within myself, the guilt that tells me that I have failed people, the “if I had only” statements that play around my mind.  “If I had only” made more of an effort to reconcile with my brother, maybe he wouldn’t have felt so alone.  “If I had only” kept in touch with my best friend, maybe I would have had a chance to say goodbye to him.  These thoughts are hard to deal with, and my depression feeds on them like a ravenous wolf, fueling it and making it stronger.

So, how do I break the cycle?  In a word, forgiveness.  Forgiveness towards my childhood abusers?  Forgiveness to the bullies who mercilessly taunted and hit me all through my school life?  Forgiveness towards those who should have protected me, but didn’t?  These are all valid, but not the biggest one.  All of these are heads of the same beast, the anger and shame that I carry around because of things that were done “to” me.  They were not my fault, yet I carry the burden of them because I feel like I somehow could have stopped them.  Again, the “if I had only”s surface…

How do I start this?  Compassion.  Compassion for the abusers who, in their own way, we’re just as broken and wounded by their own demons.  Compassion for the bullies who were playing out a script handed to them from the generations before, afraid to look inside themselves and the anger and fear that drives them.  Most of all, compassion for the scared, weak child that I was, and the troubled man that he became.

It’s an ongoing process, but at least it’s one that I have l started.  Once I started to forgive, a weight started to lift.  I no longer feel quite as angry as I did.  I will never forget what happened, and it doesn’t mean that I will open up and blindly trust those people again, but if I can get to a point of forgiveness those memories won’t have the same weight to them that they once did.  When we hold on to the bitterness and shame of past events, all it does is poison us and make us sacrifice the joy of the present – which is all we really have in life.

There are so many wonderful things I my life, a wife who loves me, family that cares for me, a job that I love, and many others.  It’s time I started learning to enjoy the blessings…

Eating crow

I want to start off this blog with an apology.  If I unfriended you from Facebook, I am sorry – it was not personal.  I have already re-friended most of you, and explained to some of you.  I recently had a slight “meltdown” with my depression, not a major one, but enough for me to end up unfriending a bunch of people on Facebook, mostly people from my past.  I have been wrestling with some old issues lately and old wounds got re-opened.  Certain emotional splinters that had buried themselves deeply over the years are starting to push their way out, and it ended with me not handling it well, ultimately cutting myself off from a large portion of my past.

Unfortunately, this is an old pattern of mine, which my wife calls “Turtling” – I pull my neck in and withdraw into my shell, hiding away from the things I don’t want to deal with.  I am learning, with the help of my family, to stand my ground and not retreat, but I am human and I sometimes fail.  This blog has been a helpful tool for me, and I hope to continue posting on a regular basis.  I hope and pray that the people who are my true friends will understand when I fall, and those that can’t handle it, I understand if you need to take a step back – no hard feelings.  I know that I will get through this, it will take time, but I will.  Even though the storm is blowing, and the sea is choppy, I have Jesus in my boat – I know I will get to the shore.

On a lighter note, I found some new podcasts to listen to lately that have been really helping me feed the right wolf.  They are “The BadChristian Podcast” and “The Mental Illness Happy Hour”.  The first one is a group of Christian friends, (mostly members of the rock group Emory) who talk to people from all walks of life and portray a very real, honest portrayal of Christian life by people who recognize that they are not perfect (the name comes from Bad Christian, Good Savior).  The second one is by a very funny comedian called Paul Gilmartin and is about dealing with depression, as well as other mental illnesses that people struggle with.  I am only episode 3 in so far, but I like what I hear.  Both of these podcasts use comedy to address serious issues that we deal with, I recommend both.

Into the black desert…

It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that Sir Terry Pratchett, 66, passed away today.  He was my all-time favorite author, writing over 70 books.  He was famous for writing the Discworld series as well as a number of other books, the most recent being a sci-fi trilogy co-authored with Stephen Baxter.  He was the second best-selling British author, beaten only by JK Rowling (with the Harry Potter series).  He had been battling Alzheimer’s since 2007, but it still came as a shock to hear he had passed.  Especially as he completed a novel as late as last year.

I still remember the first time I was introduced to the realm of Discworld.  My best friend bought me one of the books (“The Hogfather”) as a Christmas gift.  I was instantly hooked – the writing was funny, wry and full of social and political observation.  I went back to the first book in the series and started to read through them in order, all x of them.  The stories fill my mind with vivid images of a distant land where magic replaces technology, story-lines than both thrill and entertain, delving into the nature of existence, human nature, belief, psychology and many other topics.  He parallels the world we know with a flourish that I aspire to having.  I cannot overstate how much this series of books means to me, they have been a constant companion with me since the 90s, through highs and lows, migrating to another continent, dealing with loss & depression, and an myriad of other life events in between.

Death was a recurring character in the Discworld books, and his speech was always characterized by ALL CAPS.  I mention this because the announcement about his passing was in a moving series of Tweets:-

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

The End.

There is a quote from one of his Discworld books (“Going Postal”) which states “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”  Well, Sir Pratchett, may your name forever be spoken by those whom you brought so much joy.

Quick post…

Just a quick post.  Started the caffeine reduction today, it went well.  I mostly drank Chai Green Tea this afternoon, the sweet, spicy taste helped to alleviate the coffee craving.  I’m watching to make sure that my depression stays in check – the last thing I need is for my system to start crashing.  I’ll keep you all appraised on my progress.

The Marmoset across my Scapulas

Recently, I had been noticing a pattern of fatigue in the afternoon – more than the normal post-lunch slump.  It has been seriously screwing with my state of mind, making it very difficult to get through an afternoon of work.  As a software developer, I need to be able to focus when I am working.  Putting a 1 where a 0 should be (or an INNER JOIN from a to a, instead of a to b – for you developers out there), can be disastrous.  Coding while fatigued has caused me many hours of pointless bug-hunting in the past, so I try to keep a certain level of alertness.

Add to that, the affect that fatigue has on my depression (and vice-versa) I decided to try to figure out how to address it.  One possibility is coffee.  Not the drinking of it, but the effect of crashing down from it afterwards.  I have been a big coffee drinker for years, but lately it has increased when I am at work.  I sat down and worked out how much I was drinking, and concluded that I am averaging 6-8 cups a day.  That’s an average, some days it is a lot more.  I know, I know – I can hear the eye-rolling from here.  It seems like it would be an obvious thing, but when something has been such a big part of your life for so many years, you develop a “blind spot” to it.

So, I made a decision to drastically cut back on my caffeine intake.  I still allow myself my coffee in the morning, while I am getting ready for work, but as soon as I get to work I am limiting myself to tea.  This is a lot harder than it sounds, as the habit of drinking coffee at work is tugging at me psychologically a lot more than physically.  So far, so good.  Of course, that’s easy to say when it has only been a day 🙂  I am trying to avoid caffeine withdrawal by weaning down slowly, but if Georgia starts mentioning that I am chewing the wallpaper and throwing the cat, you will know why.

Part of my tea drinking is also going to be switching from black tea to green tea, both for the lower caffeine and the health benefits.  I have a selection of different green teas chosen, from Pomegranate to Chai, so hopefully I will find a few that I really like.  I am more than open to suggestions if anyone knows of some really good blends…

Oh, and did I mention that I hate daylight-saving time…  fraking time changes…. losing an hour’s sleep… grumble, grumble, grumble…

Welcome….again…

Well, I guess my promise to write every day fell a little short.  By a couple of weeks.  It has been partly down to being so tired lately, and partly down to lack of inspiration.  I really need to learn to follow my own rhetoric and just write something, regardless of what it is.  In that spirit, I am going to write a little about myself today.  So far, the only person reading this blog in my wife, who will already know all this, but I’m going to put it out there anyway.

I am 41 years old, living in Oregon (US) but was born in England.  I am married, no kids (other than the 4-legged variety) and work as a Software Developer.  Most of my blood relatives still live in England, except for an Uncle, Aunt and some cousins that live in Canada.  I moved out here to be with the woman who would become my wife.  We met online, not through a dating site, but a pen-pal site.  We were just chatting as friends, with no romantic intentions at all, specifically choosing to register on the “Just Friends” section of the website (which was epals.com, or something like it).  I proposed 4 days after meeting her in person, I knew straight away.  We have been married now for over 13 years, and I love her more each day.  She is my strength…

Which, in a round-about kinda way, leads me to my next subject.  I have depression.  No, I don’t have “the blues”, I don’t feel sorry for myself and I not being gloomy – I have depression.  Medically diagnosed, clinical depression.  It has been a lot better lately (drugs and lifestyle changes help) but I still have bad patches where my lying son-of-bitch brain tells me that nothing I do matters, which is what has been partly to blame for me not blogging over the last few weeks.  The last few days have been a lot better, more like my old self, in no small part due to the encouragement and understanding of my wife.  As a side-note, “Wind Beneath my Wings” just came on while typing this – how is that for timing 🙂

Why am I telling you this?  I want to be able to be completely open with how I feel and what I am thinking, both in my personal life in general and in this blog.  I am doing well being open and honest with my family, but not always with other people.  If I am going to censor myself while I am typing my blog, I will end up giving up on it because it isn’t what I want.  So, you can expect frank, maybe sometimes overly so, conversation from me here – good and bad.

Still here?  Awesome, I guess there is life out there after all 🙂  I PROMISE to write again soon.  If I don’t you have permission to hunt me down and play table tennis with my testicles.  Unless I am in a terrible accident where I lose my junk, because then it would just be a cruel taunt.

Catch you later 🙂

Welcome to…something…

Welcome to my new blog.  Not sure quite what I am going to talk about in here, it will probably end up being a “stream-of-consciousness” kinda thing until it forms a shape.  If I commit to writing every day, I might just make something good – or at least something okay….it will definitely be a thing of some kind.

Finished reading the book “Jumper” (by Stephen Gould) today.  I had previously only seen the (rather lackluster) movie, but I got the eBook in a Humble Bundle, so thought I would give it a go.  I loved it!  I looked it up online and there are 3 sequels out, so I will buy them at some point.  I have so many books to read right now, I can afford to wait.  I was given “The Long War” (sequel to “The Long Earth”) for Christmas.  It is from one of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett (co-authored by Stephen Baxter).  I was also given the complete collected stories of Sherlock Holmes.  Combine those with the dozen or so eBooks I have bought in bundles lately, I have lots to catch up on.

I have gotten behind my reading lately – mostly due to my addiction to Candy Crush 🙂  I have decided to lay off the game (level 821 is probably far enough…) and do something more creative with my time.  Hence the reason I am starting this blog, it is part of my “make a thing” each day pledge, inspired by the “Radio Free Burrito” podcast by Wil Wheaton.  He talks about creating something, not expecting it to be always awesome, but letting the thing be what it is.  Sometimes the doing is more important than the end result.  Just “make a thing” and let the love of doing it be it’s own reward.  If it turns out well, there is a good chance it will find it’s audience.  For now, this will have to be good enough…

Watch this space…