Better living through chemistry a month on.

I’ve been on Prozac for my anxiety and panic attacks for a little over a month now. I can truthfully say it’s changed my life for the better. I feel more myself than I have in the last couple years. In combination with going to my therapist I’ve turned the corner on my anxiety and I’m pulling ahead.

My boss has noticed a big change in my attitude and has even given me more responsibilities. I don’t feel overwhelmed by the workload (even though it’s been increased). I was thinking about finding another job, but I’m actually…not happy (come on it’s still work)…not depressed by going to work every morning.

Socially I feel I’m much more relaxed and comfortable with myself. I find that I’m enjoying the company of others again.

I don’t think I’m “cured” of my anxiety, but I’m back in control of it. My therapist keeps giving me fantastic coping tools to deal with the situations that normally set my anxiety off. I’d say that I’m probably back to 95% of being completely in control of my anxiety and that makes me hopeful that I can tackle just about anything.

Day three of better living through chemistry

So day one and two were pretty uneventful, some very minor stomach upset which could very well be caused by the cold I’m also fighting and the Mucinex I’m taking. The doc said that it might take three to six weeks to really notice a change with Prozac, so I wasn’t expecting to really notice anything this early.

Today I actually felt pretty good. Things that normally get me really anxious were barely a ping on my radar. A lot of stuff went wrong for me at work today but I just took it in stride and moved on. I wasn’t happy things weren’t working out, I just didn’t feel all that worried about it. Maybe I’m starting to get a little benefit out of the meds, maybe not. One thing I know for sure is that today is the first day in quite a long time now that my anxiety wasn’t in control so I’m marking it a win.

Getting help to get better

So yesterday I started seeing my psychologist (I didn’t write yesterday because I’m suffering from a nasty sinus cold and pretty much crashed when I got home). He listened to me, asked a lot of questions and gave me some exercises and homework to do.

We talked about treatment options and agreed that the best bet for me to feel better sooner was a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.

This morning I saw my new primary care physician and discussed what my psychologist and I had talked about last night. He agreed and after more questions and discussing a couple different options with me we decided that we’d try Prozac.

It will take 3-6 weeks before I’ll really start to notice if there is an improvement, but I’m optimistic. In the mean time I have another appointment with my psychologist next week and I’m looking forward to that.

Roots of my anxiety

First let me start off by saying that I hope my parents never read this, but if they do I want them to know I love them and I’m not blaming them for my anxiety…but I believe they were a factor.

My childhood had a lot of happy moments, but those were often punctuated with moments of sheer terror and self loathing.

My father has a brilliant mind for mechanics and an even sharper mathematical talent to go with it. For fun he used to race my grandmother’s Olivetti Electrosumma 10 key adding machine doing all the math in his head and beat it to the answer every time. Granted the Olivetti had to grind through cogs and gears to come up with the answer but we’re still only talking a few seconds for it to compute even a fairly big math problem. My father was also a functioning alcoholic, he’d come home every night after having a couple beers on the way, and have two or more Black Velvet and Coke (mostly black velvet, and a splash of coke for color and fizz), then the fun would start. My father when drunk is scary mean, he’d argue, demean, ridicule, and yeah sometimes devolve into physical abuse.

This was an every night occurrence. He’d sleep it off and be up for work the next day. Wash, rinse, repeat. The most terrifying thing is you just never knew what was going to set him off at any particular moment…but you knew that once that happened you were in for an hour or more of yelling if you were lucky (if you weren’t lucky you also might get knocked around with the yelling).

One event that stood out for me was when I was in third grade learning my multiplication tables. It had been a pretty quiet night so far and I was at the dining room table working on them and when dad got up to get another drink. He stopped on his way back to see what I was working on and when he saw it was math he decided to get in on it. He grabbed my table away from me and started quizzing me. I did pretty good up through the 5’s but then started faltering. With each wrong answer he got angrier and more worked up. When we got to the 8’s he asked “WHAT IS 8X8?”, I replied “I don’t know we’re only up to the 6’s.”. This proved to be the moment the arming switch was thrown on my dad’s thermonuclear temper and I could see his face getting redder and angrier by the millisecond. “FIGURE IT OUT” he yelled at me, spittle flying in my face. At this point I burst into tears and said “I can’t. I don’t know how.” That proved to be the moment that the clock on the detonation sequence began ticking down from 10. “YOU CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT? AMERICAN ENDS IN I CAN. YOU DAMN WELL BETTER FIGURE IT OUT.” Now I’m crying so hard I can barely breath and in full on panic mode. “TELL ME THE ANSWER”, he screamed. “ARE YOU REALLY THAT DUMB?”. It went on like this for almost 2 hours, him screaming at me and threatening to keep it up all night if I didn’t give him the right answer. I didn’t get dinner that night because the “lesson” went on past my bedtime and I didn’t finish the rest of my homework.

For several weeks after that night he quizzed me relentlessly and I would inevitably choke on one of the answers and then he’d start yelling and I’d start crying. My mother would sometimes try to stand up to my father and get him to leave me or my sister alone, but that usually just made him angrier and started what I like to call the triple play where we’d all take turns getting yelled at and demeaned.

This went kind of thing went on for years. I dreaded the time my dad would get home from work because I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I did something to set him off. I tried to stay at friends houses most weekends to avoid him, or have my friends over because he typically wouldn’t get angry in front of my friends.

In later years my father cut back on his drinking and for the most part we got along. Even still there were often tense arguments between us on a weekly basis.

I’m happy to report that my father no longer drinks (because of a bout with pancreatitis). Though I never wanted him to get sick, it’s been the best thing to happen in our relationship. My father is compassionate, understanding, and damned fun to be around now that he’s sober. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t blame my father. Alcoholism is a mental disease and it’s a damned difficult one to have to deal with.

As I travel down my road to battling anxiety I look back at the kid I was and I wish I could have told him it would get better. That kid went through hell and was terrified all the time. Getting through a rare night without getting screamed at was like a vacation in the Bahamas. When I turned 12 and started realizing that I didn’t like girls and was really attracted to boys that just added a whole new layer to the anxiety…keeping a secret from my family, my friends, and the kids at school. In the 70’s and 80’s being found out to be gay in my hometown would likely have gotten me beat on a daily basis at school and home. Anxiety has been a constant unwanted companion to me for as long as I can remember. Some days I overcome and some days I just survive. For the last few months it’s been a constant battle to just survive, barely keeping my head above water, my arms are getting tired and I keep dipping deeper and deeper into the water.

Wow, I don’t think I’ve written this much since college. I guess the old saying, ‘write what you know” applies…though I really wish that my subject matter was happier, or even entertaining. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or alcoholism get help, you don’t have to suffer.

The opposite of bacon…

You know how bacon makes everything just a little better? Put it with anything and it’s just better, man I love bacon.

Yeah, I’m the opposite of bacon. I make everything just worse. Put me in any social situation and I’m going to be the person that everyone wishes wasn’t along. My best friends live in the UK and we barely see each other, and that I suspect is why they are still my friends…they don’t have to put up with me on a regular basis.

I need to figure out what is wrong with me before I chase everyone I love away. Hell, Randy took up golf again just to get some time away from me.

A little decompression time at the beach.


Took a little time today to decompress. Went to the beach in Lincoln City with Randy and our pug Ianto. It was nice getting away for a few hours and letting the ocean air take away some of the stress from the last week.

I’m still dealing with the fallout from last Wednesday, I don’t expect that’s going to go away overnight, but I’m doing the things I need to do to make myself better.

For now, I’m trying to stay away from the news (especially anything having to do with the orange buffoon in the Oval Office), and trying to do better at expressing my feelings when I’m having anxiety.

Dark places and turning on a light

Wednesday I was in a dark place and needed to go to the psychiatric crisis center. My anxiety and an argument with a loved one caused me to have a bit of a meltdown.

I have to admit that going to the PCC was kind of a scary idea for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The staff was friendly and comforting. My councilor asked me why I was there and listened to me. When I finished talking she asked questions, made recommendations and just chatted with me. She reassured me that everyone needs a little help now and then.

Just because we find ourselves in the dark sometimes doesn’t mean we can’t turn on the lights. Don’t feel ashamed or afraid to see a mental health professional if you need help.

In Salem, OR:

Psychiatric Crisis Center (PCC)  503-585-4949


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Relationships and Anxiety

Relationships are hard, even under the best of circumstances…throw anxiety on top of that and it’s enough to make you want to curl up in a ball and cry sometimes. This all gets even more tricky when you throw in a polyamorous relationship.

Yes, my husband and I have a poly relationship with another man. No, I won’t get into the details of the relationship, our partner isn’t out and it’s not anyone else’s business.

One thing I will say about our partner is that he has similar issues with anxiety that I do. This has made the relationship more challenging, but it has also given me a unique perspective on my own anxiety and what it does to both of my partners.

I’m learning really quickly how big a jerk I can be when I let my anxiety take over. How my insecurity causes issues in the relationship. I’m learning that I am a lot more jealous a person than I thought I was. That I can be petty and manipulative without even thinking about it at the time.

I need to be better so that I don’t ruin my relationships. My guys mean everything to me and I don’t want to be the reason things fall apart.

Despite the bald head, I’m not a supervillain.

Over the last couple months someone I care very much about has been little by little, bit by bit casting me as a villain. I care about this person a more than they could possibly know, but it hurts me to the core to think that they don’t trust me.

Can I be a jerk sometimes? Oh hell yes, the worst (I’m working on it, I really am). Am I frustrated and sullen sometimes? Again the answer is yes (and I’m working on it). Do I misread social cues? Yeah…all the time (I’m not good socially…but I’m working on it).  Am I a horn dog? Yeah, I like to flirt and I think open talk of sex is healthy. Would I ever cheat on my husband or a partner? No, I wouldn’t.

I’m not some hardened criminal genius. I’m a sometimes grumpy guy with anxiety who just wants to be loved by those I love. I’m easily upset and often wear my heart on my sleeve. I make mistakes all the time, but I try to learn from them and not make them again. I’d do anything for my loved ones.

Yes, I’m aware I look like a supervillain with my bald head and goatee, but I’m just too much of a goofy goody two shoes to play the villain. I’m not perfect, I’m just me.

The struggle part II

I woke up very early this morning and could not go back to sleep. I played a little Overwatch and couldn’t really get into it, so I worked on my website for a little while and now that I’ve finished that I decided that I wanted to write a little more about my topic from last night (if you haven’t seen it you can read it here: The struggle ) .

Anxiety for me is like being yanked out of the drivers seat and shoved into the back seat. Rational me sees everything that’s going on while Anxiety Eric is at the wheel. Anxiety Eric is a jerk…and a poor driver. He gets mad at little things that go wrong, he slows down when he should be keeping up with the flow, sometimes he stops the car in the middle of the freeway and won’t move (obviously I’m speaking metaphorically…I’m a good driver and would never stop in the middle of the freeway).

It’s difficult for me to watch myself get frustrated and angry about things that I know I shouldn’t. Sometimes just the way someone says something to me starts my brain to overthinking. I start to wonder, “Did that person mean this or that? Are they annoyed with me when all I was trying to do is be helpful? Did I say or do something to make that person think I don’t like them? Did I say something insensitive and not realize it? Maybe I should just never talk to them again. Maybe they’ve been trying to make me look like a fool. Should I be angry with them for saying that? What if they were just joking? What if they weren’t? Should I apologize even though I’m not sure I did anything wrong? Was I being bossy? Am I letting this person walk all over me cause I really just want them to like me?”…all this and more is streaming through my head every time my anxiety kicks in.

Growing up I had very low self esteem. I was meek, easily intimidated, quiet, and kept to myself. Being gay in a rural desert town with no resources and not knowing anyone else who was also gay, I stayed in the closet. I took Karate classes to learn to at least defend myself and I began to come out of my shell a little. When I hit 23 I decided I needed to do something to escape my little hometown hell and joined the USAF. I came out of my shell a little more, but I struggled a lot with my anxiety. When I came out to my parents it was a disaster. A couple years later when I met my husband Randy and left the Air Force to stay with him, my parents flipped out even more. While my parent’s have since accepted Randy as part of the family, they never came to our commitment ceremony or years later to our wedding when gay marriage was legalized.

Meeting Randy was the best thing that could have happened to me. He’s patient with me (though I push that a little too far on occasion). For quite some time I’ve been able to keep my anxiety in check because of the support Randy gives me. Recently though, I’ve been made aware that I’m sometimes very rude to Randy and it makes him and our family and friends uncomfortable.

I’d like to be able to blame this all on the stress I’ve been feeling lately; the Trump election, the move, the new job, living in a new area where we haven’t established very many social connections. Sure these things contribute to my anxiety, but I’ve also been to blame for not seeking help when I knew I needed it. Admitting that you have problems is hard, even harder when you always try to project being tough and in control.

I have anxiety and I need help. I’ve put myself on the path to healing and I want to get better. To everyone who my anxiety has affected, I’m sorry and I hope you can forgive me. To the most important people in my life, I love you.