Depression, Stress, Anxiety and Coffee

I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire.

And I’m a master of procrastination and escapism.

This makes for being a terrible person and a horrific writer.

I haven’t written on this blog since May. There is no plan, rhyme or reason for this post, but I do need to write something. A lot has changed and a lot is the same. Losing love, or whatever it was, really took a lot of wind out of my sails.

She and I don’t even really talk anymore.

Any substitute is just a form of avoidance or feeble attempts at getting that unsubstantial high.

Therapy has been helping. Delving into the person I am. Delving into the ecosystem of my personal life. The actions or habits I have that may be detrimental to myself and my relationships, now and in the future. I’ve been working on communication with my spouse. Finding out where her head is at. Working on where I am going; where we should be going. We actually have been getting along swimmingly this summer. Vacations, managing our little family and household. We even went on a date. I feel like we’re making progress and learning to communicate.

I just don’t know if she’s my person.

Are we so different now that it’ll be better to fundamentally change our relationship? Is there something better and more nurturing for all of us? That is the journey I’m still on this year.

I working to not have two lives, one where I escape the uncomfortable realities of my real life. The other of course is real life.

Also I am working on creating a healthier ecosystem of support in my life – my home life, work life and friend life. I need a strong work environment to support my mentally so I’m working on getting out of the house and into a studio environment where ideas can be exchanges, new opportunities discovered and generally be around creatives. I’m an introvert but I can’t create alone. And I depend on my creativity to pay my bills.

Oh, there are so many bills.

Being depressed kills me (figuratively). I turn to doing nothing but looking for a quick fix from anything that will make me feel anything. I don’t write. I don’t work. I don’t love or live.

But I can’t do that. I’ve got bills to pay. And a life to lead.

Depression, stress and anxiety aren’t going anywhere. I need to cope better. I need to rely on others while simultaneously relying on myself. I need to write, work and spend time enjoying life.

But right now I need a cup of coffee.

Perfect Day.

Saturday, March 23, 2019 9:27am PT

I walked from the rental agency bus out into the parking lot. My name was on a board with a parking spot number next to it. Sure enough there along the fence, parked in the corresponding spot, was a blue Mustang convertible.

I’d never driven a Mustang before. Renting one was part of this weekend fantasy of mine. I had a new pair of Ray-Ban aviators and some new clothes (thanks to my wardrobe consultant). I had left winter far behind for four days on the coast. A little work and a little play. As she would later say, was this a sort of a dual life? Maybe. But I needed it. It’s all I had to live for seemingly. She and I had been talking quite a bit since that night in West Hollywood a little more than two weeks prior.

Within an hour I was texting her while standing in front of her apartment building. Standing there trying like hell to look cool, leaning against “my” blue convertible. She walked out a side door a ways down and that’s when my brain shut off. The next four days were a dream for me. What I write here is my feeble attempt to document a perfect day(s) as much for my benefit as anyone’s. I remember bright red lipstick.

I was nervous, maybe she was too. We hugged, I opened the car door, we were out of there. We drove up the coast to a pretty cool surfer themed restaurant on the water in Malibu. It was surreal. The friend I had left weeks before was quickly becoming more than a friend. We had the whole day planned out together. Time to learn more about each other. Lunch was good. I forget what I had, she had fish tacos. We talked about classic rock. I fell for more of her sideways glances and quirky mannerisms. Stepping outside the valet brought the Mustang, I lowered the top.

Driving back we turned left, leaving the coast behind and followed an old green 911 up into the hills. I don’t know if she planned it or not but I had a blast following that Porsche up into the hills, enjoying the relatively fun to drive Mustang. We drove through the valley. Talked about music (she played me some Smiths). Talked about houses…hell talked about getting a house together. I was still nervous. But at some point driving back in towards Hollywood I put my hand on her knee. I don’t remember if it was then or some other time that day, but she said that’s when she knew she was in trouble. I’d known I was in trouble since I first laid eyes and talked to her in person. We were in trouble here.

Around three in the afternoon I dropped her back off so she could get ready for dinner and I could go check into my hotel.

Checked in I proceeded to take a shower, and iron my new shirt and linen(?) suit. Angela had gotten me cufflinks as a good luck gift so I fiddled with those.

[Text from her] Did you send me something?

Yes, yes I did. I had arranged for flowers to be delivered while she got ready. She loved them.

Returning to her apartment building, this time I went upstairs to hang out while she finished getting ready. I got to meet her dogs (I had brought a goodie bag for them to open).

And we kissed.

Back in the car we drove a couple miles down the road to Catch, a really cool restaurant with a garden vibe on the roof of some building. We deferred to the waiter to recommend five different dishes to share as a couple. She and I sat side by side in a semi-circle booth and talked and laughed, or at least smirked, the entire time. For me it was sublime to be so at ease and to be so incredibly happy. We looked good (she looked great…she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known to be honest), we felt good and we worked good together. There was nothing forced or uncomfortable about it.

After dinner we went downtown to Edison which is a speak easy, burlesque kind of joint. Did I mention she looked incredible that night? Tight black dress, curving in all the right places. I was crazy for her. By now we were crazy about each other. Sitting next to each other became basically sitting intertwined in each other. I loved being so close to her, kissing her cheek or neck discretely. The dream turned into heaven. We ordered dessert, and ate none of it. The burlesque “show” turned out to be a five minute dance…we were out of there.

From there we capped off the night back at my place (my hotel room), listening to music, talking…

It was a dream like day. It’s really hard for me to remember because I don’t think my mind was registering it as being real. We’d go on to have one more full day together (pool, observatory, movie night in bed) and then two nights after work together. We talked about everything…our past, our future…feelings…our escape plan. Never in my life had I experienced what I experienced those perfect days spent with her.

Like a fool I fell in love.

Hard.

Island In the Sun

Thursday, May 23, 2019 – 5:32am

I hate mornings like these. I’ve been up since 4am. Tossing and turning in bed. Looking at my phone. Hearing the birds wake up, watching the brightening sky turn the room grey from black. My cat jumping back and forth in bed (he always has to be on the side I’m facing). Purring, his tail twitching.

I finally decided not to fight it. So here I am typing away. A bit of house keeping in this entry. I’ve been depressed for a long time. The tough thing about being depressed is some days I don’t know what to do. Some days I have a vast list of things I want to do. And some days I can’t do anything if I wanted to. Every day is a new adventure when your mind is bleak but your broken spirit still yearns. I don’t know how often I’ll post. I’ve blogged before and it’s impossible for me to keep a schedule. It’s like I write when the stars align. And the state I’m in means those stars have a mind of their own. Thinking out loud here, maybe getting a schedule for writing would be healthy – kind of like how I’m trying to exercise daily…

I started off this blog with song titles for the entries. It’s fun, and somewhat appropriate (we’ll get into that some other day. Though everything needs a soundtrack, right?). I don’t know if I’ll keep it up – I don’t want to make my writing “work” and I don’t want to have to scour the internet for obscure songs to fit my mood or the theme of any one post. Today’s entry could very easily be “I’m On An Island” but ugh, that’s such a sucky Kinks song I couldn’t do it. So I picked “Island in the Sun” which is an infinitely better song by Weezer, and it’s decidedly more upbeat so that’s a bonus.

I’ve felt alone and isolated for some time now. The last year. The last six years. Ten? Somewhere around there. Making kids was stressful. Raising kids is stressful. Building a house was stressful. Losing my job was stressful. I’ve been working from home, essentially isolated from the rest of the world for several years now. As a creative that is a death sentence. I’ve spread myself thin. I’m depressed, anxious and stressed.

My wife and I get along in many ways that most couples do not. We almost always agree on vacations, home decor, pets, running the household and raising the kids. We are not great communicators when it comes to our personal relationships. I’m not going to delve into it too much here. I am just worn out you know. I talk about it enough in therapy and in my mind. My point here is I feel I’ve been going through much of the last decade alone, albeit with this fat fuzzy cat by my side – he’s like an anxiety and depression sponge, offloading my negative energy. I think that’s why he’s so fat.

Anyway, I really can’t take it anymore. I’m really tired and scared. I can’t feel like I’m on an island anymore. The biggest step I’ve taken on this front is I’ve been seeing a therapist for the last month or so. I went to a health and wellness presentation this past winter. At that event a (different) therapist gave a presentation and what I got out of it was: I believe almost anyone can benefit from therapy. We spend a lot of time and money on our physical health. We see doctors, exercise, take medicine, eat right…why not do the same for our mental health. We don’t have to go through life alone, nor do we have to rely on the roll of the dice when it comes to family, partners or friends.

After a few months I finally got the courage to get a recommendation and make an appointment. My therapist and I have had good conversations, and we seem to be a good fit for each other. Now once a week I’m able to let it all out, work through what I’m going through and have someone to help strategize with on my path forward.

The focus of our sessions is my relationship with my spouse, which for me is what I need to resolve in my opinion. It’s not a healthy relationship. I’m not happy in it, and have not been for a very long time. I don’t know if my spouse is happy. We don’t communicate. We don’t show affection (other than family vacations we haven’t slept in the same room in ten years). My kids are watching and learning. This is bad. I do not want to just leave like some people might. Maybe I don’t leave at all. Maybe I do. Regardless I want this next step to healthy, nurturing and kind for all of us. It is what we deserve. I don’t buy into society’s one size fits all expectations and resolutions to relationships. We need to have a situation that is right for each of us, right for our family. We all deserve happiness and we all need the courage to choose happiness.

Now is the time.

I want off of my island (that is not always in the sun).

Middle Of The Road

My unofficial mantra had always been if everyone else is happy, if everything else is taken care of, I would then be free to be happy in whatever way that meant. I could spend all day Saturday playing video games in my pajamas, eating pizza and drinking beer, if I wanted to. I kinda want to.

The problem is, and it took me about twenty years to figure this out, I’d never get to this state. The state of guilt free happiness. I was piling project after project on myself. Buying stuff incessantly. Volunteering my time. Trying to please everyone, and doing a really shitty job at it quite frankly because I’m also self-involved, lazy and a procrastinator. I’m also kind of a loner and definitely an introvert – I think that’s why I liked the idea that if everything was taken care of, and everyone was happy, life would leave me alone.

Well as I approached, and passed mid-life I became, have become, increasingly unhappy and depressed. For lack of a better way to describe it, I have lost interest in anything that was me and everyone was suffering for it. I’m not happy in my marriage. I feel trapped and alone. There’s no right or wrong here. There’s just how I feel. And enough is enough.

I’m not sure what tense to write this in, because this is happening live. I’m going through this now. Some of this is in the past, you’ll catch on to that, to provide some context. I jump around a lot. It’s just how my mind is working as I try to make sense of it all. Writing for me is the easiest way (remember I’m intrinsically lazy) for me to get whatever is inside me, out, before it kills me. It’s unpolished. I’m unpolished. I write off the cuff, and I edit sparingly…

Here I am soundly in the middle of the road in so many ways.

I didn’t pick twenty-nineteen to be my self help year, like some delusional New Year’s Eve party goer after their fourth champagne cocktail. I needed to help myself otherwise I wasn’t going to make it. I have a job, spouse, kids, mortgage…I have it all. But I need to change for myself.

I’m not happy.

Or I wasn’t happy.

I don’t know what I am. Except I am hopeful now, which I haven’t been for a long time. I’ve taken some really big steps already, and some small ones, and some that will probably make you cringe or pass judgement. It’s all okay. I’ve got a therapist. I’ve stepped down from a few unrewarding obligations that I wasn’t able to contribute to in a manner or extent that I’d like to. I’m exercising now…

Nobody, save for a handful of strangers that I’ve never met in really life, and a few that I have, really knows what I’ve been going through and continue to go through. Now you’ll know too because I feel the need to share, not only to get it out of me, but also somehow make it real. I’m a maker. I make things. It has to be tangible. I’d like to be able to go back and read, to see how far I’ve come. A dusty journal on a nightstand doesn’t work for me. I’ve been going it alone for too long and the journal is like that, going it alone. Whereas writing here gives me strength and courage.

I’ll close with that word “courage“. I keep going back to it. It’s borne of vulnerability. And I think those are a couple of the keys to my finding happiness.

I’m tired as hell.

I Saw Her Standing There

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 – 7pm? Maybe 8…

I don’t remember if I bought anything new to wear, but I know whatever I was wearing that night I ran it by Angela first. Exchanging direct messages, snapping selfies…twenty-six hundred miles apart, this was no way for a forty-five year old man to act, debating my outfit, looking for approval from someone I’ve never met in person, yet there I was. Anymore, I ran everything about my attire past Angela if I was going out in public looking to impress. Shit, I just wanted to look presentable. A midwest boy in a west coast world. I’d better look the part and fake the rest, right? Half untucked graphic t-shirt, sport coat and black denim pants, Nike skater shoes (I haven’t skated a day in my life)…black socks.

The ride over took forty minutes to go what seemed like ten miles. Everywhere in L.A. is between forty minutes and four hours apart by car apparently. My driver was from Afghanistan, and we talked the entire ride – about school, his home, family. It’s a treasure to learn about someone from somewhere you’ve never been or don’t know anything about.

Harlowe is on Santa Monica Boulevard. Yeah, the song runs through my head too when I hear that name. Another song is what prompted me to ask her (no, not Angela) for a quintessential Hollywood bar where we could meet for a drink. Harlowe is not a Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel. What it is though, is a well appointed neighborhood bar, with no pretense, good food and a 1930’s vibe.

There are black leather chairs right by the entrance and that’s where you would have found me, were you there, seated in one of those chairs, leg crossed on top of my knee, vaguely looking at my phone, waiting.

I’m here” or something like that, popped up in my notifications.

Looking up, I saw her standing there.

She’s really tall” was my first impression.

That was the last simple thought I would have about her in my lifetime. After that I was in trouble. I just didn’t know it yet.

We had been talking casually for a few weeks prior on social media. I was traveling for work in southern California so we decided to meet in person. If you look at the photos of Harlowe, “our table” is about the fourth one from the back wall on the right side as you enter. It’s near the second column from the back. Facing each other, we had a couple drinks and a bite to eat. The steak frites were excellent by the way, I hadn’t eaten all day seemingly. And she had mac and cheese. We talked non-stop for three hours. We talked about music, work, family, life…joked about it being karaoke night (every Tuesday and no, we didn’t sing)…honestly I don’t remember it all because I was mentally trying in vain to record in my mind her sideway glances and the way her lips formed words. She was exactly how I imagined her to be. By time eleven came around my mind caught up with reality and I knew I was, yeah, I was in trouble.

The air was mist turning to rain outside as we walked out, blue and green lighting bounding above the city. She waited with me on the sidewalk until my ride showed up. I played it cool with a simple hug; we were just friends after all and said “goodnight, I had an awesome time“. I think I smiled the entire trip back to my hotel, replaying the night over and over in my head.

Yeah. I was in trouble.

Eighteen days later I’d be back…

P.S. this site has no affiliation whatsoever with the West Hollywood bar of the same name