Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Update on me

Been two years since I updated this blog and lots happened.  First off, still off Xanax but using a small dose of Klonopin for my parasomnias.  Also added Trazodone which is helping me sleep without thrashing. So far so good.    My anxiety is mostly under control despite going to White Sox Park June 9, 2014 with Leanne and had a massive panic attack, and left the park after 3 innings.  Next season we'll be going back to White Sox Park and trying to stay the whole game.  Maybe the Sox will have a better team.  

I lost my job March 23, 2015 with the charge being I falsified my FMLA papers.  We fought it and had a grievance hearing April 23rd and the result on May 23rd was that I will still fired.  

I've decided my next career will be a social media marketing person...maybe even a director.  I'm going to take some "classes" at Score Chicago and then look for a job immediately in that field.   At the moment, I'm living on my pension which I was able to salvage.  I was turned down for unemployment benefits.  


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Latest update - August 2013

It is now almost a year and a half off Xanax.   I'm doing well.  Apparently my paruresis had a physical element to it -- a narrow bladder neck.   I'm still off Xanax and still on Cymbalta and Zyprexa.   I can see the Zyprexa as it's a mood stabilizer and my mood has been anything but stabilized.   I recently asked my psychiatrist for a medication review and he refused saying I needed to be on EXACTLY what I'm on now with no changes.  That doesn't rub me right so when I saw my primary care doctor and told him what happened,  we agreed he'd help me find a new psychiatrist.   After a couple false starts, I believe we have found him.   In addition to Cymbalta and Zyprexa i'm also on a blood pressure medication, Provigil to keep me awake when I'm at work, and i take a very low dose of Klonopin before I go to bed as I also have sleep apnea.  I'm not getting younger so I have learned I have to take good care of myself so I can be of use to my girl. :)    

Sunday, April 07, 2013

1 year off Xanax

I've been off Xanax one year as of tomorrow.  I rarely take .125 xanax when under intense anxiety situations like seeing the dentist.  I'm still shocked that I got off so easily but I really let my body set the schedule.  When my body and mind felt ready, I decreased but not until.  You have to be really self-aware to use this method to come off of Xanax.  Recently I was diagnosed with a moderate form of sleep apnea and the doctor told me he was considering putting me on Klonopin but after being on Xanax for over thirty years and taking just under two years to wean off,  I was reluctant to go back on a benzo.  I'm grateful that instead of Klonopin, the doctor put me on Melatonin which I think will work better for me.   Being off Xanax and not having withdrawal symptoms to deal with has been wonderful.  I have occasional bouts of anxiety but I  use mental tools (CBT or DBT) to get past them.   I'm learning to be a good friend to myself.   I'm still on Cymbalta and Zyprexa but neither of them is as addictive as benzos.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sleep disorders

Being with +Leanne Edwards  has been wonderful for my anxiety disorders.  Been flashing back on my panic attacks from the past. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago.  I'm grateful to God I no longer have them.  I keep getting better and better.  Next on my health to-do list is dealing with my sleep disorders.  I've been diagnosed with sleep apnea (moderate form) and parasomnias.  A few weeks ago I went for a sleep study to get this diagnosis.  In a few weeks (night of March 31st to morning of April 1) I go for a CPAP titration test where I will sleep, wired up to a machine for monitoring purposes AND wearing a mask that has preset oxygen levels pumped through that will be increased incrementally.  I hope to solve my sleep problems in a very short time but will try to avoid using benzos to treat the sleep apnea.  I"m nervous about having oxygen forced into my lungs like this because I tried it during the sleep study and it was scary.  I'm going to google more about the CPAP titration test and see if I can find a way to relax during this test.  Suggestions from those reading this will be appreciated.  

Monday, October 08, 2012

Xanax - 6 months off

I haven't touched a Xanax in six months.  I won't lie and say I haven't craved one but I don't want to set my recovery back so I am determined not to touch Xanax.  Since my doctor upped my Cymbalta and Zyprexa, I haven't had the sensations of nerve tingling all over my body.  My sleep has not improved.  The other night, I woke up to see my hand balled into a fist and travelling towards my fiancee.  Yeah I was about to punch her in the arm but woke up before I connected.  I really want to work on this sleep issue of mine.  She has issues of her own and doesn't need to put up shields while asleep to prevent her from getting hit either with my fist or my elbow.   We have temporarily cancelled wedding plans for the moment.   We have other issues more pressing to deal with first.  Emotionally, I'm feeling great. 

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to Valparaiso, Indiana for a BeautiControl training for Leanne.  She drove the whole six hours herself.  We went with a friend and this friend had to drive me back because of a panic attack.  Leanne came home later with her director.  I'm so proud of her. Last weekend, we had a booth at our local Oktoberfest and we stayed nearly six hours trying to drum up business.  

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Major recovery news

When I was still battling paruresis (bashful bladder syndrome) I bought a couple boxes of straight catheters that I learn to use on myself.  It gave me temporary relief of urinary retention. Since my prostate surgery (during which the surgeon also fixed a narrow neck of the bladder)  I have had no problems with urinary retention and I feel so confident about that, that I threw out my catheters.  So, I gave up my Xanax two and a half months ago, and shortly thereafter I gave up my catheters.   I'm throwing all my crutches away, one at a time. I have also stopped individual therapy to move on to couples' counseling so that my fiancee and I can learn how to talk to each other so we'll listen.   On the other hand, due to my sleep problems, my doctor and I decided to increase my Cymbalta to 90mg a day and my Zyprexa to 5mg a day.  I see him in a few weeks and we'll see how that has gone. The other reason for the meds increase is that I've had nerves firing all over my body, making me feel like my whole body itches.  Despite this latest problem, I still think I'm doing well and am proud of my progress.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sleep problems

I'm trying to deal with my individual problems one by one.  Anxiety is down, no panic attacks, I quit Xanax and the only thing I can see left is my problems with sleep.  I've had these problems for years but I guess Xanax took my desire to do anything about it away.   It seems when I fall asleep, I dream of my family and while in the dream I'm cordial to them, on the outside I'm kicking and thrashing in my sleep.  I've hit my fiancee and thrown my cat while asleep.    The technical term for this is  parasomnias.  Everything I've read says this occurs when you are acting out what is happening in your dreams.  The problem is that I'm NOT thrashing or fighting in my dreams.   I'm not done researching but so far all I've hit is dead ends.  I don't remember how long ago it was that I slept well.  My fiancee says that last night I was rigorously scratching my butt.   If something doesn't change soon, I plan to call my primary care doctor and fill him in and see if he can't refer me to a sleep doctor.   I go to sleep tired and wake up tired.  Suggestions are welcome including those suggestions that come with a web link. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Off Xanax - 1 month later

Tomorrow will be one month I'm off Xanax.  I'm happier than I ever thought I could be.  My senses aren't dulled and my enthusiasm and passion for life is greater than ever.  The withdrawal effects have almost totally disappeared.  I occasionally have waves of nausea but it goes away.  I do experience waves of anxiety from time to time but I look at it in wonder and observe it.  It never ceases to fade away.  It turns out that Xanax may have dulled the panic attacks but it also dulled my enthusiasm and excitement for life too.  Guess you trade  off one for the other but I've taken back my excitement and enthusiasm   Next up is my wedding in civil court May 25th and I can't wait!  I see my psychiatrist in July and we'll talk about the remaining medications I'm on but there's no hurry.   Life, here I come!  Full speed ahead!  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

One week without Xanax

It's a week now after I took my last Xanax.  I do still have a yearning for Xanax.  Anytime I feel a little anxiety, my first impulse is to grab a Xanax.  That's been my practice for 25 years.  Now I use my DBT skills and it goes away.   I'm still feeling nausea and stomach upset.  I was on generic Xanax and I think it's the fillers they put in generics that's upsetting me.  Still time passes on and I'm so happy each day that passes without using Xanax.  I think the toughest part of no longer using Xanax is that it has been a part of my life for so long and it's like I'm switching gears and going in another direction.  We humans love familiarity and we are so against change.   I'm here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with change as it can be what is best for you.  

To get off Xanax, you have to first forge a life without drama.  It helps to have the support of friends, family and medical professionals.  Then you have to learn to trust yourself and your body.  Setting a strict schedule to taper off Xanax is a recipe for disaster.  The best way to taper off Xanax is to let your body determine the next taper and tlhe next.   I went something like two months per taper but that's just how it worked out.  With each taper, I became more confident.  When your body is ready for the next taper, then you taper.  That is the best way to taper....at least in my experience. 

I'll post next at one month off Xanax. :)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Day 1 without Xanax

I went to work today.  The only thing I noticed being 24 hours without Xanax is that I'm a little "wired" like I had a ton of energy and nowhere to put it.  Other than that, I'm thrilled I finally quit Xanax.  Called the pharmacist and found out that it would take several days to get 25 years of Xanax out of my body.  i aimed for a June 9, 2012 termination of Xanax termination and got to it earlier than anticipated.   Feeling real good but learned I have to take my Enablex on time so my bladder doesn't go into overdrive. LOL   So far so good and looking forward to continued success.   It helps to have a loving and supportive fiancee' plus an anti-benzo psychiatrist. 

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Xanax Dilemma

After nearly 20 years on Xanax,  I'm on the home stretch of coming off of it.  I'm on Cymbalta and Zyprexa still  but will wait on re-evaluation of these medications.  My current quandry is that I take .25 Xanax per day, half in the morning and half at dinner time.  I want to come off of it and I'm on a small enough dose that I SHOULD be able to stop it now and not have any withdrawals.  However,  I'm not sure if I'm ready to risk it.  I have a lot coming up and want to do all of it.  Therefore, I don't want to do anything to sabotage it.   I think I'll carry a couple of half tablets of Xanax on me but will stop using it completely and see how it goes.  I can always take it if I need it.  I can't foresee any problems but that doesn't mean there won't be any.   I'm feeling much more confident these days.    I'll try to post soon how it's going but I can use support and prayers.   Let's see what happens, shall we? 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Meeting this week with my niece

This week I saw my niece.  My immediate family and I had a falling out two years ago and we haven't spoken to each other since.  My niece came to my work and my initial reaction was to snap at her "What are you doing here?"  To her credit, she handled it with grace and said she wanted to talk to me.  She asked if I'd be around at noon and I said my lunch time was at 1pm.  She came back at 12:30pm.  We talked a while and  she told me some things.  My dad was in a wheelchair short term due to a leg injury and a hip problem but he has recovered and is walking and back at work.   My nephew is moving to Iowa in a few months with his girlfriend and a friend of his.  My sister and brother in law are doing ok as they can be.  Unfortunately my niece and her husband are partially separated and may be doing so permanently.   I told her that I had prostate cancer surgery last September and that I was still recovering.  I also told her about the fire in our building this past January 8th.  We had a nice chat and after a bit, I told her I had to get back to work.   When she left, I felt emotionally better than I have in a very long time.  I had some semblance of peace.   The family feels the impact of our falling out as I do and is respectfully giving me time and space.  Some family members can never be forgiven for what they did but others have some hope.   I'm tired of being intimidated and I'm tired of being walked on so while there is little hope of reconciliation,  there is a release, a letting go.  This is real progress so I'm glad I talked to my niece AND as long as she remains respectful, she can return to where I work and we can talk more. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Xanax

I was put on Xanax in 1987.   It was supposed to take the edge of panic attacks until I could seek therapeutic help.  I have been on it for over twenty years but I've since learned that one should not take Xanax for more than a few weeks.  After that time, either therapy should have taken effect or another medication be used. The new medication should be begun, hopefully,  with fewer side effects and lesser chance of addiction. Here I am, more than a couple decades later, weaning off Xanax.  I've weaned from .5 four times a day to a half tablet of .25 taken twice a day.   All of this has taken a couple of years.  I have to cut it down a half tablet at a time, wait for the effects of that weaning to cease and do it again.   It's a slow process, not helped by life's crises.   I suspect I should be down to .125 mg at bedtime by mid-summer and off Xanax by the end of summer or early Winter 2012.   I feel for anyone put on Xanax and not removed in short order.  Substituting Klonopin or Activan for Xanax is no substitution either.  Ativan is stronger than Xanax and Klonopin lasts longer in the blood stream.  Make no mistake about it, Ativan and Klonopin are addictive as well.  

Friday, February 03, 2012

Emergency dentist visit

Yesterday, I treated myself to a Whopper meal from Burger King at lunch time.  As I was finishing my fries, I felt pain in my mouth and realized I broke a tooth. I took a half day off work and  I quickly got myself to a phone to call my dentist.  He was unavailable and the receptionist asked if I wanted to make an appointment for Monday.  I told her I needed immediate care.  She did some research and suggested another dentist.  I  did a little research of my and found one not far from work.  After about a half hour of getting the group number of the dentist and a fax number to give to my insurance to get the referral through, I set up the appointment .  It was on the 20th floor of an office building. They had me fill out some paperwork then set about xraying the offending tooth.  The dentist told me the tooth was cracked and had to go.  I took a Xanax then the dentist shot my upper palate and gums with Novocaine.  About ten minutes later, the dentist then began pulling the tooth.  The scariest part was the Novocaine not only froze the area around the tooth but also the lower eyelid of my left eye and my left nostril.  I guess the nerves are all connected.  The extraction took about an hour.  I I had a few moderate panic attacks but I kept it together quite well.  Afterwards, there was a period of cleaning up.  My left side upper jaw was swollen and there was some blood left on my lips.  I was given prescriptions for pain killers (Tylenol 3 with codeine) and antibiotic (Amoxicillin).  I left the building after paying the bill, walked about three blocks to Walgreens, got my meds and took a cab home.  I was told the Novocaine would take about 2-3 hours to wear off..yeah right, it took nearly SEVEN hours.  I guess I'm getting mentally stronger enduring this without  much additional Xanax.   It is now nearly 12 hours since extraction and while I feel sore, I'm doing very well.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

FIRE!!!



This past Sunday, we had a fire in our apartment building five floors below us.  At one point, we thought we were going to die.  Then after we got out safely, we thought our cat, who were forced to leave behind, was dead.  While we all got out safely, unfortunately, one young woman in her 30s was,killed by smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.  We live on the 17th floor of a 21 floor building.  We had to run down 17 flights of stairs. The exertion plus the fear caused me to start to panic but I had to shrug it off temporarily otherwise the hyperventilation would have caused me to inhale too much smoke.  We were shaky all week, jumping at every noise.  I was emotional, knowing how close we all got to death.  I took a week off of work to try to collect myself and help Leanne and I regain our center and our feelings of safety and security.  The apartment management has gone all out,  providing dinner for everyone all week plus free laundry and free dry cleaning.   The woman who died, did so on an elevator so that elevator was damaged.  She didn't know there was a fire and by the time she learned about it, she was dead.   I feel bad about her dying.  

I also felt bad that here I am facing death for the second time in less than 3 months  (third time in five years) and my family is nowhere to be found.  I guess they no longer care about me, if they ever did.   I guess it was all about what I could do for them and when I decided to stop giving them and go get myself a life with Leanne, they wrote me off.  I have to find a way to accept their decision and let them go in peace.   I'm not sure how that will look, feel, sound, etc but I'm working on that next.   The only family I now have is Leanne and our cat, Jacob. 

In my next blog, I'll discuss more about Dialectic Behavior Therapy. 

Saturday, January 07, 2012

How DBT group works

For those of you considering joining a DBT group, I  thought I'd let you know how it works, generally.  First thing that happens is introductions including the instructor.  You learn a bit about each other since you'll be spending many weeks together learning and practicing these skills.  Then the overall rules of group is handed out.  Your attendance is important and being on time is imperative to avoid disrupting group sessions. The teacher gives you a phone number you can use to contact him or her in case of absence or lateness.  Doing the homework is essential to learning how to put these skills into use.  After the introductions and rules, you get to the first module - mindfulness.  I'll explore this module in detail in my next blog.  For the next three or four blogs, I'll explain the skills and a little of how I use them.  Back to group structure, the way it works after the first meeting is that you are taught the skills, you share with other group members how you could use them in your own life, then you get homework.  Subsequently,  when you return to group, you go over the homework and everyone shares if they choose how they used the skills.  The group offers suggestions on other ways you can use them and  after the homework, you learn other skills in the module.  The instructor tries to get everyone to share their ideas of how the skills can be used and also how everyone DID use them.   It's a real informal group settings with lessons, discussions and homework.  I'm rather shy but I loosened up after a couple of sessions. The instructor helped by asking me to share with the group which I did.   When I went, each group session lasted 90 minutes, give or take five minutes. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dialectic Behavior Therapy

For the last year or so, I have been in Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT).  It's done wonders in giving me skills to deal with anxiety in all forms.  DBT offers four groups or modules in interrelated    skills.  First off, there is mindfulness which is being aware of everything around you and all aspects of a situation.  This is so important to solving problems and just getting along with others. Then there is interpersonal skills which are vital, seeing as we are social creatures and these skills will help you relate to others.  Interpersonal skills are broken down by which of three areas are pertinent to the current situation: goal-orientated, how others will view us and how we view ourselves.  Once we know which of these three are most important in a situation, that will determine which of the three skills corresponding to those three areas to use.  The next set of skills are emotional regulation which is understanding what emotion we're feeling,  why we're feeling it, and how best to communicate that emotion.   Finally there are distress tolerance skills which when things are at their worst (a temporary condition), how to tolerate and survive through this momentary crisis.  I've learned how to use all these skills and have handouts when I'm not sure plus worksheets with questions on them to answer if I ever have doubts.  These skills have pretty much saved my relationship with my beloved fiancee'.   I highly recommend them.  A good place to start in order to see what is involved is at this website: http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/.  After you view this site, if you feel this can work for you, look for a DBT counselor in your area and also consider group therapy.   

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Panic over finances and our decisions

Still having ups and downs but most of them are financial.  I can easily get panicky if I start thinking about the possibility of starving or losing our home but I'm guessing most people do.  In case though, these "what if" statements rarely ring true.  As it is, our cell phones have been disconnected due to nonpayment.  We hope to get them back on within a week or so.  Time will tell but don't think we'll lose anything else. Times are tough for everyone so worrying or panicking helps nothing and in most cases, makes things the worse. I'm embracing living in here and now and taking things one day at a time.  It's too hard to go beyond that.  


Due to the recent legal battles we've had plus recent prostate cancer surgery, we've decided it's best to push our wedding date back to May 27,2013 so we can enjoy the planning as well as the wedding day.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post-surgery

This year, on September 22,2011, I had my prostate removed.  There were cancerous cells in it and decided to have the operation to remove all traces of cancer.  Surgery took 8 hours and I was in recovery for 3 1/2 hours.  I chose DaVinci (robotic) surgery. I was home for about four weeks before returning to work.  I'm back at work and recovering nicely.  I face another 4-6 months of recovery though as I am temporarily impotent and slightly incontinent.   Post-surgery, the removed organs were thoroughly biopsied and found to have no cancer spreading elsewhere.  About two weeks ago, I had another PSA test and it was undetectable which is best case scenario. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I'M GETTING MARRIED IN 2013

Well, my sweetheart and I are in the middle of planning our May 25, 2013 wedding.  We even have a website at http://www.maxandleannesummer2012.com.   I have come a long way.  Paruresis is no longer a part of my life.  I have been tapering my Xanax down and take .125mg four times a day. I still take antidepressants although I'm not convinced I need them.  Planning a wedding is so much fun!   I am also involved in something called dialectic behavior therapy which is a godsend for people with anxiety problems. It teaches you important lifestyle skills in four parts:  mindfulness, interpersonal skills, emotional regulation and distress tolerance.  I'm shaking off the trauma of my past and am slowly inviting the goodness of my present and future.  I have read books by Thich Nhat Hahn and they are wonderful.   I can't wait to marry my beloved!!!!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

49th Birthday

Today is my birthday. I've gotten a lot of well wishes via Facebook but most of all I spent the day with my beloved. We're getting along great and each day, I have more self-confidence. I have discovered the joy and freedom of meditation and present moment awareness. What this means is that instead of worrying about the past or the future I take stock of where my body and mind is RIGHT NOW. I recommend Thich Nhat Hanh's "The Miracle of Mindfulness' to all who have anxiety-related issues. I thank God for another year of life and I thank God for all the wonderful people in my life right now...and especially for my Beloved, Leanne Edwards.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Many changes

Since my last blog, there have been many changes. I've moved into an apartment with my beloved and we're very happy. I honestly would never have imagined my present. about five years ago when my paruresis was at its worst, but here I am. I still have occasional paruretic attacks but can get through them fairly quickly. Part of the "treatment" is accepting it merely as part of who I am and not identifying myself in terms of the disorder. I have created a set of 3 x 5 cards as tools...each one with a positive thought. At work, I have in my cubicle a wall of empowering essays, articles, and sayings plus prayers. I have three pictures of the most influential people in my life: my sweetie, Cesar Milan (The Dog Whisperer) and our new President, Barack Obama. After seeing him during his candidacy and watching how he is grace under pressure when under attack, I feel he's a good person to want to emulate. My girlfriend doesn't do evil and I am emulating that part of her as best I can. I have also learned to be honest. Never be embarrassed because you have anxiety issues. I'll post another blog soon.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Arrested but innocent!

On June 26th of this year, I was arrested. Some woman on the train to work thought I was taking her picture with my cell phone and I wasn't so she turned me in and I was arrested and processed. On July 30th, I went to court and my case was dismissed since my accuser didn't show up. However she was given 140 days to reinstate the charges and then 20 days later I can begin expungement procedures to have my arrest record deleted but it will cost me $136. The more important part is that while locked up, I endured being locked up for nine hours 45 minutes without food, medication, phone call and without much water. I was not alone as there were other arrestees there but nobody I could trust to keep me calm and I had no access to my support system which means it was me vs me. I had to find a way to keep calm by myself. While I did suffer some stress-related after effects, the event has made me a stronger person because I missed two doses of my Xanax and one of Prozac and I had no problems and was able to keep myself calm. That is a huge accomplishment.

I learned that I don't need to worry myself about what others think. What I think about myself is most important. Everyone else is free to think as they will. Getting scared, upset, or angry is a choice and I don't have to choose to be any of these things. For example, when I get a phone call that something terrible has happened to someone I love, I wait to see what shape they are in and how dire their situation is before I react. In the interim, it makes no sense to get all upset. As for gossips and those who talk behind my back, I honestly have no desire to know what they are saying. It doesn't matter to me. I'd rather be left in the dark. Also I would rather people not spare my feelings and tell me the truth. I'd rather have the harsh truth than a soft lie. The secret to finding peace is to know yourself and set your own boundaries. Once you've done that, you have to enforce the boundaries. In the real world, laws are no good if the authorities don't enforce them. It's the same with your own boundaries. You get upset only if you let yourself get upset. There are situations where you genuinely are justified in getting upset, angry, hurt, or scared but once the situation has passed and/or resolved, then you need to let it go. The woman who had me arrested, I'm sure, has gone on with her life. The police who made the arrest have moved onto other arrests. The only one who spent months dwelling on that incident was me and for a while I missed the lesson. The lesson is that I'm stronger than I give myself credit for. In the most extreme way, I had to learn to rely on myself to stay sane in a situation that would have panicked the toughest person. I think I did very well. Despite the fact that the arrest will eventually be deleted from computers all over the city, state and country, it will never be deleted from my mind. What I need to do is remember the positive lessons learned and let go of the ugly memories. Easier said than done but definitely doable. I'll try to update this more often.

As for the surgery I had last November, I had 20 staples in me when I finally was released from the hospital. I had them removed a week later. They had hoped to do the surgery laproscopically but when my appendix burst, what was left attached to the intestines flew behind my intestines so the surgeon had to take my intestines out of my body and get to the appendix so he could remove it. I'll write again.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Surgery tomorrow

I have to have my appendix removed so I'm going in tomorrow for surgery. Surgery is scheduled to begin at noon CST and shouldn't last long. I have to be at the hospital by 10am. I'm not looking forward to it but it has to be done. I haven't had surgery since 1966 when I had my tonsils out. I keep saying that when it comes to surgery, I'd rather be the one going in than the ones stuck outside waiting for the person in surgery. Tomorrow I'll either prove myself right or eat my own words. I should be home by Tuesday. I have been out of work on disability since September when my appendix burst. I hope to be back at work within a couple of weeks. I just hope that my paruresis doesn't get in the way of this situation. I want things to go smooth. Those that read this, I ask for prayers and I appreciate any I get.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

My birthday

Today is my birthday and I am glad I have my bashful bladder syndrome under control. I have mental tools I can use if I ever find myself in trouble like that again. I had a pretty good birthday which ended ten minutes ago. I'm learning about myself and that I'm worthy of self-respect. It's a good feeling. I still have some problems in some bathrooms but not in many of them anymore. I still have problems if I have to travel a long distance by car and I'm not the one driving.Things have quieted down in all aspects of my life: oniine, family, friends, work, everything. I'm glad as it will give me time to learn more about myself and how I got myself in various kinds of trouble over the last few weeks. Lord knows i can use the rest too. I got a nice clock/calculator and also a new addressbook for my birthday plus a bunch of cards and $30 in cash. In addition, I got a 1 gig card for my mp3 player. I love having over 100 songs on my mp3 player. I got tired of listening to the same old 37 or so songs I had on it when it only had a 250 meg flash memory card in it.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ups and downs

Last week, April 29th of 2006, my family went to a White Sox-Minnesota Twins game (Sox won 9-2) but due to my panic, I didn't last three innings. Our seats were behind the catcher almost at the very top. We're talking ten ramps to walk then around 25-35 seats. Lots of triggers for panic and unfortunately I couldn't control it using my mental tools I learned in therapy. On the plus side, I did go to the game and I did last three innings and successfully used the bathroom there. Here it is a a week later and yesterday Chicago had a Partnership Day where the police and the community affirm their partnership against crime by getting together and having some fun together and strengthening our partnership ties. Unfortunately due to the slightly gloomy and occasionally rainy day, not many people showed up. I did stay for the whole thing and for the first time, I got on a horse. They had horse patrols there and two cops offerered to let people get on the horse and for the more knowledgeable, go for a short walk on a horse. I consider this a success for me in my anxiety problems as I was afraid to get on a horse but did it anyway. That's the secret of dealing with all kinds of anxiety problems..feeling the fear but doing it anyway and finding out there was nothing to be afraid of. After the disappointment of taking a taxi home from the White Sox game last week, it was nice to rebound and be on top of my game for this partnership day this week. I can't let one bad day keep me down anymore. I have to learn to let it go and move on.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Who do I want to be?

For many years, I kept stating what kind of person I didn't want to be. I didn't want to be abusive to any woman I dated or (God willing) married. I didn't want to belittle anyone at any time. On the flipside, I didn't want to be a doormat or someone's easy target. Well while i have a good idea of what kind of person I DON'T want to be, I don't have a good idea of what kind of person I DO want to be so that's my assignment this week. I need to come up with some sort of profile of the type of person I want to be. Part of this assignment is finding a role model that I can use as a foundation to build on. I have found that role model in my cousin's husband as well as her mom. I have some idea of what kind of person I want to be but I still need to flesh out the profile a bit more. After I get enough of a profile, then I need to take on the characteristics of that profile and eventually become the kind of man I want to be. It's not going to be easy and no, I won't be doing a total makeover (so to speak). I like many of my qualities but there are others I don't like. I come from a family of people who yell to get their point across. I don't want to be like that. I'd rather speak firmly yet calmly. I'd rather discuss rather than argue. I'm going to put on paper the qualities I want to embody and those I wish to discard and try to become that kind of person. It's not a huge difference than who I am today, only an improved version. There's always room for improvement so to set the goal for what I want, I need to set one or two SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Tangible) goals per week to get to where I want to be. No I won't be posting those goals in this blog but they will be posted in a place I feel safe putting them. For this week, I want to get an idea of where I want to end up. After that, each week I plan to take one step towards reaching that goal.

Monday, April 10, 2006

In the beginning

The first part of this was told to me by my late mother. When I was three months old, I got real sick one night. I was vomiting a green liquid so my mom took me to an ER. The doctor there told her to drive me around with the window of the car down for a a few hours and I'd be ok. She didn't take that advice seriously so either she or my dad talked to my paternal grandmother. Turns out she faced a similiar dilemma years ago with my uncle so she referred my mom to a doctor named Dr Laib. My mom took me there, the doc took one look at me and grabbed me and took me directly to the ER and performed surgery. I had an undescended testicle but more dangerous, I had a hernia that allowed a piece of stool to get lodged in my uretha. The doctor fixed all the problems and I survived.

Three years later, Dr Laib's assistant who had risen to the level of a top urologist, Dr Ivan Schrekovic ran some tests on me and found that one of the tubes that go from the bladder to the kidney was short. So another surgery was scheduled and while there he went over everything Dr Laib did to see how I progressed and it was all good. Those two doctors saved my life. When the doctor went over the surgery details with my mom, I know he told me that it was not safe to hold in one's urine and I could have sworn he said if I did, my bladder would explode. I obviously misunderstood what he was saying but I was merely three years old. I have since learned one can hold in their urine for 36 hours before they run into a situation that requires a trip to the ER. At 36 hours, it's possible that the urine can back up to the bladder and cause an infection.

At an early age though, the emphasis was put on my bladder, kidneys and urinary functions. Also my dad thought it was funny to hold the bathroom door closed so I'd think the door was jammed and I ended up freaking out. My mom had to tell him to knock it off.

Over the years, whenever I had to urinate, I had to put up with remarks like "don't fall in" or "if you fall in, flush", etc. I remember once my family went down to the lakefront (Lake Michigan) and I had to go so my father's cousin had to take me to the Drake Hotel to use the bathroom. In order for me to use that bathroom, my dad's cousin had to buy a drink so he had to spend like $5. He told me it was the most expensive piss in history. LOL

It began to get old to hear comments and see eyerolls whenever I had to go to the bathroom. When we'd go out as a family and I asked if we could stop someplace so I could use a bathroom, my father would get upset but eventually he did stop someplace. That's why even now I prefer going places on my own, where I'm in control, then going as a passenger where I'm at the driver's mercy. It's also how I learned to use the bathroom before I left the house and I wouldn't leave the house until I did.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Jutst a quck update

I just thought I'd tell you I'm doing quite well. Two weeks ago I went to a cousin's housewarming party and had no anxiety problems there at all. She did let me use her private bathroom and that helped. This past weekend I went to my uncle's house and I had no problems there either. Work has been the same. You'll notice this log entry is happening at a time when I should be at work. I slept hard last night dreaming I was Bruce Wayne/Batman. Kinda funny but hey, you can't help what you dream when you're asleep. I imagine I think I'm trying to save the world too much and should be focusing on saving myself or protecting myself from the world. Well anyway, I'm sorting through a few things with the help of a wonderful (and dare I say, attractive) therapist. I want to ask my psychiatrist if I can start coming off of some of my medications soon. I guess in time he'll make that call. Right now my top priority is keeping my job, getting some money together and getting a car so I can get out more. Having a baby in the house has made homelife very interesting but my niece and her husband plan to move out soon. That will leave my sister, her husband, their son and me plus three cats. That will give me a chance to spend more time with their son and bond a little as he's going to need a positive male influence. Wish me luck. Half the time I'm positive, and the other half I'm negaitve. LOL. Oh well. Thought I'd post something here.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Whew

Well I didn't lose my job...thank God! I got docked for Feb 2 and 3 and I used three vacation days for Feb 8-10. I've been back to work since Feb 14th and so far all is good. I haven't missed a day and I haven't been late. I'm almost back to where i was last Sept 1st when I returned to work and totally calm. This weekend one of my cousins is having a housewarming party after moving into her own apartment and Im invited. I'm going as I need to face my fears as much as she needs to do the same. It's win-win all around. I'm off Monday for Pulaski Day. Other than that, the anxiety is gone. My doctor took me off of Celebrex and switched me to Tylenol Arthritis Pain formula and it works just as well without any potential dangerous side effects. I guess life is as good as it can get for now. :)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Watch your medications

On Monday January 30th of this year, I went to see the doctor for stomach flu. While I was there I thought I'd have my perpetually runny nose dealt with. The stomach flu was viral so there wasn't much he could do. However, for the sinus problem, he gave me Allegra-D. Bad mistake. It has pseudoephedrine which is "speed" on the street. Turns out that it is not something that a person with anxiety disorders or with a history of urine retention (I'm in both categories) should be using. Unfortunately I was stupid and didn't read the pamphlet that came with the meds and took them for two days. It seems to have triggered the bashful bladder problem I have and anxiety symptoms. I have not been anxiety free since Feb 1. This is now Feb 11th so that means 10 days straight of anxiety. I have worked 3 of the past 10 working days and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be terminated. I hope I'm wrong. I'm going to talk to my therapist today and see if she or her supervisor will put me on medical leave for two months so I can avoid termination. I will use the two months to practice my CBT techniques in various bathrooms around the city and have my self-confidence back up to where it was last September. This is a three day weekend, thanks to Lincoln's Birthday. I'm going to practice all weekend so I can return to work on Tuesday.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

New therapist, new challenges

Well I'm done with cognitive behavior therapy and my therapist Christopher was transferred so he sent me to a new student therapist named Rebecca. Now it's bad enough dealing with paruresis but I didn't think I could talk about it to a woman. I notice that I'm having trouble leaving Chris behind me and moving forward with Rebecca and she's doing her darnest to make me comfortable but it's not quite the same. I've got an email folder full of a year's worth of emails between Chris. Rebecca told me to leave it alone until we meet next weeknd. Anyway, seems now I've graduated to something called psycho-dynamic therapy. In this, she tries to get beyond my anxiety and paruresis and tries to get to the heart of the problem and find ways for me to become a better person. I was with Chris for three years so it's hard having to part with him and the thing is, ethically he can have no more contact with me at all. If Rebecca needs to consult with him, she can but I cannot. I have come to realize in a few short therapy sessions with Rebecca that "I have met the enemy and the enemy is me". What I mean by that I am my own worst critic when I do something wrong but I have little to no ability to reward myself for doing something right. I wish I could understand this but at this point, I can't. I do know HOW I got to this point....started with my dad telling me I was worthless and would never amount to anything when I was a kid. Obviously now I know he was just angry and his words were not accurate but just born out of his anger. I've been mistreated by a lot of people over the years so my homework assignment this week is to create a list of those people,excluding online people, who are my family, friends....in short, my support system, or those who should be my support system. Probably will be a short list. Also she gave me a form to fill out to give her an idea of my mental state and what she's working with.

As far as my paruresis goes, I'm now able to use a urinal when there's nobody else at a urinal in the same room. If they're in the stall, it's ok. It's a lot better than it used to be and I'm happy with my progress but I want to keep working at it. At this point, I use a corner urinal. I want to work towards using a urinal in the middle. I can't let what I learned in CBT slide away. It's valuable tools and like any tools, they do no good unless you use them.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 comes to an end

As the year comes to a close, I'm forced to look back and I've made good choices and bad choices. My best choice was to enroll in and follow cognitive behavior therapy. Since September 1, 2005, I have been back to work but I've been sick at least once a month. I was sick one day in September for stomach flu, four days in October for bronchitis and pneumonia, one half day in November for stomach flu again and four more days in December for bronchitis. Yet somehow I'm accruing time at work. They are happy and so am I. The bad choice I made is to think about others but spend NO time thinking about me. As the year 2006 comes in, I plan to spend more time thinking about what I want for my life. No more worrying about relationships and things not within my control.

When I get my tax refund, I'm opening up a checking account with it and then I'll add to it every two weeks that I get paid. Ultimately I plan to use some of that money to buy a car. There are books I want to buy as well that I plan to buy but none of that will come from my checking account. I have an alternate method of payment for books I want to buy.

In 2006, I'm going to spend my time improving myself. I'm not going to stop helping people but I just will cut back some and spend more time enjoying life. There's no way to know how much time I have left anyway so I might as well enjoy it. That's why I want a car. I can then hop into it and go to a karoake place or to my dad's house for a few hours or wherever I want to go. I'm looking to buy a car either from a person selling a car or from a police auction. Dealerships aren't the best way to go and I am sure I can get a better deal without them. Just my thoughts.

Happy New Year to one and all. Good riddance 2005. I'm a much better person at the end than I was at the start. :)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

3 month update

I'm back to work now three months. In that time, I was off one day in September for stomach flu (which normally would sideline me for 3-4 days), I was off for four days in October for bronchitis/pneumonia (normally would sideline me for 1-2 weeks) and I was off a half day in November for stomach cramps and other signs of indigestion. Other than that, I worked straight. I did face disciplinary hearing in November for the 4 days I was off in October since all but half a day was covered by sick and vacation days. They let it slide but told me I have to prove I can accrue time or they'd have to end our employment relationship (fire me). I'm doing my best. CBT for paruresis is coming to an end but I'm going to be transferred to another CBT for social anxiety. I'll post in the next couple days my thoughts on the CBT progress to date and my conclusions.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Back to work finally

Well I returned to work Thursday September 1st. I breezed through the day and had very little problems in the bathroom. Everything went well. Friday, everything sucked. I had lots of problems urinating and was in panic mode all day. I don't get it. You would THINK I would freak out Thursday and feel better Friday. Now I got a three day weekend to try to make some semblance of sense to those two days. The good news is that I made it from start to finish of both days. I'm not on the computer much during the week (this Monday will be an exception due to it being Labor Day and we're off) but I will be on as much as possible on weekends. I will have to go to Evanston, IL for therapy on Saturdays but that's okay. It will give me a chance to review the week with a professional and iron out any rough spots. I will try to update this blogs on Sundays. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Trial and Error

I had turned in my letter from my doctor and was hoping to return to work today. Unfortunately mere hours before work, I had a full blown panic and paruretic attack. I eventually backed out. My dad tried to be supportive but my sister reamed me out. She has no clue what bashful bladder syndrome is. In a nutshell, when I get very anxious, my PC muscle tightens and it won't let urine pass through. My brother-in-law still thinks I need to go to the hospital and have x-rays and MRI of my brain. There's nothing wrong with my bladder or my brain except that the chemical imbalance in my brain causes me to panic which in turn causes the PC muscle to tighten up. My job seems to be a major trigger for me. Anyway, what I need to do is create a situation that is as close to what I'd be going through at work and work my way through the anxiety. Then I'll be ready to go back to work. I feel pretty disappointed that I wasn't able to return to work today. I hope to return soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Inducing panic symptoms

Well the next phase of my therapy has begun. We're inducing symptoms that are usually related to panic and could cause a panic attack. We started with breathing for a minute through a straw and not a drinking straw but one of those tiny thin ones that you use to stir your coffee. Imagine pinching your nose and breathing through your mouth through that tiny straw. Kinda scary and I was unable to keep it up for a minute straight without struggling for breath. The other exercise we did was heavy and hard breathing for a minute straight to emulate hyperventilation and I did get dizzy and anxious to the point my hands were shaking. I asked the therapist if he would leave at the end of session if I were having a panic attack and he declined to answer saying that he didn't want to allay my fears as I have to face them. Oddly enough at the end of session I did not have a panic attack. I was even able to use the urinal before leaving the office which was great. I guess that just because I have some strange body sensation, it's not necessary for it to turn into a panic attack. I have more to do like spinning in my seat for a minute straight designed to make me dizzy. Also, sitting in a chair with my head between my knees for a minute then straightening up real fast which would lead to wooziness and unsteadiness. This is going to be the toughest phase of therapy but I wanted to deal with the fear head on so here we go. I have to practice some of these exercises at home.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Aborted therapist visit

I was supposed to see my therapist on Friday. I got on my first train, no problem. When I got on the second one, I smelled something burning and I got panicky. The train stopped multiple times as the train operator tried to find out what was malfunctioning. At one point, she ripped open a panel behind the last set of seats before the back door of the train and did something. The smell in our car stopped but the malfunctions didn't. I would think, in light of the London tragedies, they would pull that train out of commission, have everyone get out, and drive that train back to the depot for repairs. Nope. I didn't get quite to my therapist's office and I panicked so I took the train back and guess what? I was on the SAME train with the SAME burning smell. When I saw an opportunity to switch trains to a better one, I took it. It was very scary but I used my breathing exercises and I told myself that whatever that burning smell is, it was not dangerous to me but I have to admit it did hurt my eyes. Whatever was burning could have eventually burst into flames. I think it was poor judgement of the transit authority and the train operator to keep that train in service despite the problems. I wish I had more information on the train but I do have what line it was and what time I was on it so that might be enough. I see my therapist again on Friday although I hope he does push it up somewhat so that I can get back to work soon. I have big plans on returning to work. I'm going to try starting my own business first and it falls short then I'm going to take a course in medical transcription and try to have a job where I can work from home. Then I can go out to enjoy myself. Something will work out...I just know it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Just an update

Well my psychiatrist thinks I'm ready to return to work but my CBT doesn't just yet. I have to concur with my CBT. I have to see him tomorrow and that's a long ride in the 90+ degree heat we've had here. It's enough that the ride takes two hours but it's worse that it's so hot that it's hard to breathe. I have no clue how I'm going to make it and the thought makes me nervous but that's tomorrow. I have to live my life one day at a time which means I need to focus on TODAY. There is no guarantee there'll be a tomorrow. In addition, my psych says I don't need to tell everyone when I'm having trouble urinating....just those who will be positive support for me. For now I'm guessing that means my psych, my CBT and possibly my niece and sometimes my aunt. Well I've done enough rambling.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Another panic/bashful bladder episode

I just had the week from hell. I spent a week panicking and it made the paruresis act up. So there I was curled up in a little ball either on my bed or in my frontroom on the loveseat shivering. Day after day I prayed for relief and day after day I fought my way through the day. I didn't want to be around anyone and I was hypersensitive to noise and light. I have reason to believe that this episode, like the one last year, revolved around letting someone move in with me, this time temporarily. I had gotten screwed in the past and was afraid of getting screwed again. I should have realized this time, it was family and none of them would screw me (I hope). It took a bit but what got me out of the episode was classical music and a resolve that I would push myself out of my bed or love seat and back into my life. Little by little I accomplished this. I'm not totally back but I'm getting there. I urinate now with a minimum of effort which ensures I don't have another panic attack. The problem now is that I have what I call a reverse panic episode which means that I fear those things that provided me comfort during the panic episode.....my bed, classical music, staying inside too long, because I don't want to return from where I've already been. Yesterday I walked up and down my block. Today I ran a few errands close to home. Tomorrow I'm trying to set a goal to either go to Aldi's or to TJ's and if I go to TJ's I'll eat and practice using the bathroom there. If I go to Aldi's, I'll make sure to drink a lot at home so that when I get there I can use Aldi's bathroom. I have to get back to practicing using bathrooms in public places. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Yesterday at McCormick Place East in Chicago, IL

Yesterday my sister and I joined thousands of other people for a citywide community event at McCormick Place East. There was a videotaped message from Mayor Daley. Then his wife Maggie Daley spoke, then Superintendent of Police Phil Cline spoke. We had news anchors from channel 2 and 5 as special hosts. When all the speeches were done, we got to go to two workshops of our choice. We had over 20 to pick from. I was panicky from the time we got there at around 8 to the time we left around 1:30 but the last hour was the worst. That was when I found out that the only "out" I had if I wanted to leave early was to walk nearly a mile to catch a bus or cab home. I stood the hour. Battling the panic and the bashful bladder problems were very tough. It took every tool I had in my arsenal, from thought challenging to breathing exercises and more. I somehow made the whole thing. I don't know if I'll return next year but then I have a year to make that decision. I did learn that panic doesn't have to limit what I do or what decisions I make. I did take my meds and towards the end, I managed to even eat a little bit. I amazed myself but I did restrict my fluid intake. A few times I thought I was going to pass out because during the whole five hours I didn't have a drop to drink (well that's not entirely true..I did drink a half glass of water in the last hour or so). Another thing that happened was taking a walk around the floor we were on and also going outside and seeing the lakefront helped. Most people I've told this to congratuated me but I feel depressed I'm still having panic problems. I thought that was behind me but if nothing else, this much I know. I know how far I've come and I know where I am now in my progress and how much more I have to do. I'm not sorry I went though because I got a nice carrying bag and a nice pen for my trouble. :)

Tomorrow I see my psychiatrist in the afternoon and I have a youth subcommittee meeting I chair tomorrow night. I'm going to try to make both appointments. Anxiety can sometimes be very rough and I hate it. I hope to overcome it but I'm guessing it's one day at a time.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

CAPS Appreciation Day

Yesterday I attended something that I helped organize. The CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) program brings the police and the community together for the common good so that we can work together to make our neighborhoods clean and safe. Well yesterday we had CAPS Partnership Day, a day to appreciate what CAPS offers to the community and to meet the officers who work in Neighborhood Relations. It was a huge success as we had approximately 500 people attend from all over the district. I ran from one side of the parking lot (where we held it) to the other doing different things and this was no small lot. Running out of breath on occasion created panic attacks but I didn't let them stop me. I merely took a time-out, did my breathing exercises, saw some very friendly faces and I relaxed. I'm learning all kinds of new things in cognitive behavior therapy and putting them to good use. I'm very proud of myself for getting through yesterday. It was definitely a milestone. And to add to it, towards the end of the day, I went to the station to use the bathroom and had no anxiety at all for the first time. I'm a happy guy with how that turned out.

Monday, April 25, 2005

In the heat of battle

This is what happened on 4/22 (keeping in mind that my sister and her crew live on the main floor of the house and I live in the basement):

I don't know what bug crept up my brother-in-law's butt but he blew up tonight. He started yelling at damn near everyone and then it got physical with my sister and my niece. I ran up to try to tell him I called the cops, he lunged at me and my sister blocked him, both of them slamming the door on me nearly throwing me down the stairs, luckily I caught the banister. I called the police and this being Chicago, they're not here as per usual. He stormed out of here saying he was going to kill my niece's boyfriend (and her unborn baby's father). No, he wasn't on drugs or drunk. I just found out the cops were here and are now gone. They were told it was nothing more than a verbal altercation which was not true but ok, at least he is warned that I'm not above calling the cops. I have the flu and I do not need that kind of baloney in my house. I told them no fighting would be allowed and now they are warned I WILL call police if I need to and next time I'll file a complaint and have him locked up. (Earlier tonight he told me, my wacky cousin is trying to get her mom committed so she will have full access to whatever is left of her mom's money. In an effort to stop this, my brother in law volunteered to go up to Wisconsin for a month [ THANK GOD!!! I WISH IT WERE TOMORROW HE WAS LEAVING] and he asked me to spy for him and let him know if my niece's boyfriend/fiancé/baby's father showed up here. I told him I'm not getting involved in that. Sorry not my business. )

Now I took inventory of the emotions I'm feeling about this and here's what I've come up with:

1. Anger: I let him intimidate me and I refuse to let anyone do that to me again. My dad and brother did it for many years.

2. Grief: My niece was pregnant with twins. She miscarried one already and it may have had something to do with this altercation. That saddens me.

3. Fear/Anxiety: My brother-in-law won't talk to me since I told him I called the cops. When I'm anywhere near him, I'm afraid he'll attack me. An online friend thinks he's embarrassed for making a fool out of himself and that's why he stopped talking to me.

4. Guilt: I'm not sure whether calling the cops was the right call but they sounded like they (my sister and her husband) wanted to kill each other. My niece had a baseball bat. Also I wonder if I should have told them I called the cops. The idea behind that was to let them know that I'm not above calling the authorities if I feel they are out of control and a danger to each other and to me. I still feel guilty because one or both of them could have been arrested.

5. Worry: I'm worried about the higher risk of miscarriage of the remaining baby inside my niece, I'm worried because my brother in law has had chest pains and a headache since his rampage, I'm worried because my nephew injured his shoulder (not related to the war) and I'm worried because I'm not getting rid of the flu as fast as I feel I should be.

6. Frustration: I have insight into the situation. This is a repeat of my sister's history. My dad didn't like her now-husband but then-boyfriend, a war broke out, and my sister was tossed out of the house. Here it is nearly 20 years later and I can see history repeating itself. I know what they need to do to change that and to make things right but nobody will listen to me. I have the gift of insight (my regular psych confirmed this) but I can't figure out how to use it. What good is a gift you don't know how to use? And finally, I don't have someone to comfort me when I'm anxious. I'm tired of being my own cheerleader. It would be nice to have someone I can talk to and lean on when I'm weak and someone who can talk to me and lean on me when they are weak.

So many emotions. When my brother in law (Edwin) is enraged, talking to him is out of the question. I feel bad for my niece that she lost one baby but again there's nothing I can do about it except be there for her as best I can. I don't know if I can get past my fear of Edwin's rage. I've tried to keep my distance for the past 24 hours. He won't even talk to me....an online friend says he's embarrassed. Possible. Everything I'm worried about, are things I cannot control. Best I can do is pray. As for what frustrates me, the gift of insight must have been given to me for a reason. I just have to figure out what it is or wait until the reason is revealed to me.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Starting on a new quest

As of Monday March 28, I'm going to use the bathrooms in the UIC main building and practice using the urinals. I will bring plenty of water to drink and I can use the lunchroom for breaks between attempts. It's a semi-busy bathroom especially during school hours and I want to try to use a urinal when there are others using them too. I want this to be a good first step to returning to work. I'm still trying to figure out my status there but even if I return for one day then either quit or get fired, I will have proven I can handle it. That's my goal. I hope to reach it.

One of the things I've done is gotten rid of all the toxic relationships I was in. That opens up a lot of room for new and healthier relationships with new and healthier individuals. I pray this is the start of a new happier time for me. I'm 43 and Lord knows I'm overdue for some happiness. I'm still looking for a new job and exploring the possibility of making the same money, if not more, with a work from home job. Don't misunderstand me. Even if I did have a work from home job, I wouldn't stay home. I'd work my eight hours then on weekends and on any day off I take (or get, however that works), I'll be outta here exploring the city and planning vacations. I guess one thing I need to do eventually is define the kind of life I want and what "normal" means to me and how to get from where I am to where I want to be. That's not going to be easy.

I've never had a normal life. It's always been strife with anxiety. I can't even imagine life without panic attacks. I am, however, looking forward to it. Maybe,just maybe, I will eventually be able to use my mental tools without the benefit of medication. That would be nice.

Friday, February 18, 2005

End of a very rough week

I was supposed to meet with my cognitive behavioral therapist today. Unfortunately that never came to pass. I was up late last night with severe anxiety and when I woke up I found myself unable to go to the therapist's office so I e-mailed him and asked to re-schedule my appointment. I think I just planned too much for one week. I get overwhelmed too easily obviously. I need to get past that. I wasn't asking anything more of myself today than I have any other week whenever I go to see my therapist. I am emotionally beating myself up for not going. Oh well. Week's over and now it's a long three day weekend with President's Day coming on Monday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Pulling out of the Bulls game

I have a history of pulling out of going places due to my anxiety disorders. Last night I was invited to a Chicago Bulls basketball game and I pulled out at the last minute. I'm trying not to let my anxiety problems dictate what I do with my life but I've been unsuccessful so far. I feel pretty bad about it. My dad always said I was a failure and would amount to nothing and I feel, at the moment, that he may have been right. It's really a downer knowing I pulled out. I have to create a similar situation and instead of pulling out, go through with it.

Starting from where I've been

My name is Max. I'm 43 years old and I've battled panic disorder and bashful bladder syndrome since I was a little boy. I didn't know that either disorder had a name until very recently. I learned about panic disorder in 1987 at the age of 26 and I learned about bashful bladder syndrome (aka paruresis) January 2004 at the age of 41. I've been on so many medications it would take a blog entry just to list them. I have been in psychotherapy for it since 1986. It affected my job to the point that I've been on medical leave for four years (minus four months i worked last year). The panic problem wouldn't be so bad if that was the extent of the problem but bashful bladder syndrome presents a litany of problems of its own that makes panic disorder a walk in the park except for the fact that my bashful bladder syndrome causes panic attacks.

So what is bashful bladder syndrome? For me, it's the inability to urinate in a public bathroom under any stress whatsoever, whether it be time constraints, someone waiting for me, or knowing that I'm in a very busy packed loud building like a sports arena or baseball park.

I just learned about treating it with cognitive behavior therapy last year (2004) and have been in CBT for a year so far. It's a long road I have to travel. The therapist introduces me to mental tools I can use but ultimately it's up to me to use them and to find success on my own. It's not a fight as some would think. That's not how you deal with it. You don't fight it. You ACCEPT it as part of who you are and move on ANYWAY. A good book that describes it better is "Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers MD.

I've landed in the emergency room a total of five times to be catherized because the bashful bladder problem got so bad i couldn't even urinate at home. I was in the ER three times in 1987 and twice in 2004. Ultimately they taught me how to self-catherize. Recently I've chosen to decide never to land in the ER for this condition again and never to be catherized again. I don't need it. If I have to wander off by myself and deal with it with nobody around, then so be it. Whatever it takes, that's what I'll do. Desperation has a way of helping you find a way where none existed before.