World Mental Health Day

(Just got done writing this one. Heh… sorry, it turned out way longer than I anticipated, but here we go…)

Any time you get on Twitter and scroll through your feed, you see any number of people posting something because it’s a “National (whatever) Day” of some sort. Usually it’s not… but it gives folks a good excuse to post cute pictures of their cat, dog, kid, or whatever – but after seeing several posts and doing a quick google, it turns out today really is World Mental Health Day.

It’s meant to raise awareness, show support for folks getting or needing mental health care, and to also reduce the stigma that’s sometimes involved. Often involved, actually. πŸ˜’ For example, a while back at one of my primary care doctor appointments I was discussing some of the things in my life that were causing me anxiety. My disability, pain, the (then) newly discovered cancer, Mom being sick and now having passed, other close friends dying from cancer, dealing with workers comp, etc… 😟 like I told her – stuff that would probably cause anyone to feel stressed. I was just telling her so she’d have the full story, but she said she could refer me to a counselor if I wanted to talk to someone about it. πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Seemed like a good idea to me. Sometimes just being able to let out your stress or anxiety to someone that’s not involved in your life in any way… it can just take a little bit of the weight off. I saw her like once a month for a few months, and she said she could refer me to their in-house doctor to see if there was any medication that might be able to help. I wasn’t really interested, since I was feeling an appropriate amount of “bleh” in regards to the stuff that was causing it… but I went ahead and took her suggestion.

I now see that doctor about once every six or eight weeks, and I’ve actually got an appointment with him tomorrow where I’ll need to make a decision. πŸ€” Because, despite this feeling like a normal series of doctor visits – just as if I was dealing with a physical health condition – the fact that this doctor gives me medication to help with my anxiety is now being used against me. 😠 And being used against me by the last person that I would expect to further the stigma surrounding mental health care… another doctor. ☹️

And when I say “mental health care” … I don’t even take any type of super serious medication, and I haven’t been diagnosed with any extreme disorders. Until this hiccup happened, I looked at this doctor and my treatment there as “Yeah, I guess it makes me feel a little better maybe… or at least I know it’s not making me feel worse… so I guess I’ll continue going.” Like, in my mind, it was barely a thing, but I continued going since it was now part of my current medical routine.

But when I had to go to the independent medical evaluation for the workers comp system (a week or so before getting that second radioactive iodine dose and scan for my cancer followup) one of the things discussed with that doctor was what medical treatment I was currently getting, and from who. (Regardless if it was related to my WC injury or not, to get a complete picture…) So of course I talked about the cancer doctor and treatment, my WC doctor and treatment, and then my PCP doctor and referral regarding the mental health care.

Now, these exams, they’re initiated by my former employer’s insurer, so of course they’re rarely going to be helpful to my cause. So I expected him to say certain things, but I never expected that being treated by a doctor for occasional anxiety would essentially be “weaponized” and used against me the way that it is. 😟😞 Because this doctor took the names of the two meds I’m prescribed, and picked some of the absolute worst possible reasons that I may be taking them. You know how almost every medication has one “thing” it is known for treating, but then it can also be used for treating a half dozen or more other things?

You could even do this test on yourself. Just grab whatever meds you take, get on WebMD, pick out the most extreme, “worst case scenario” possible uses for each medication, and see how close that sounds – compared to what you’re actually taking them for. 🧐 That’s what this doctor did to me. Taking what is run-of-the-mill, minor anxiety treatment to me, and twisting it into all sorts of implied, speculative, “concerning” mental conditions that could be so severe that they even affect how I interpret / talk about my pain and disability. πŸ˜§πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜  Reading those things in his report was honestly shocking. πŸ₯Ί

The funny thing is, for most people… just the pain that I deal with each day, and the sheer amount of things that I can no longer do due to the disability in my left shoulder and arm… just those things alone are enough reason that a person might want to include anxiety treatment in their normal medical routine. And I was doing it mostly because another doctor suggested it, and it sounded like a “might as well” thing, rather than me desperately needingΒ it or seeking it out. And now it has bitten me in the ass. πŸ™„πŸ˜’

Well, maybe it has bitten me in the ass. (Maybe the commission will see right through it, as they should.) I won’t know how his report will affect my worker comp case until the hearing is scheduled and all of the doctors’ information (from both sides) is reviewed. But now I’m stuck, wondering if tomorrow I should let this doctor know that I no longer need his services. πŸ˜ŸπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ He probably helps me a little bit, but it’s certainly something that I could do away with if it’s going to damage the treatment that I get for my work injury. It’s obviously more important (and logical) for me to want to keep the treatment that keeps my pain to a minimum, which also helps keep my stress and anxiety to a minimum.

Yeah, so anyway, it’s a bit of a clusterfuck… and, unfortunately, anyone that reads my story here… anyone that may have been considering seeing a counselor or psychiatrist for the first time… they’ve now got something to add to their mental “nope” list when it comes to the pros and cons of seeking any type of mental health treatment. πŸ˜’ I don’t take it personally, what the “independent” doctor wrote. I understand that his job is to come up with all of the “worst case scenario” stuff that he can, since my doctors will obviously be talking positively about all of the ways that my current treatment is as effective as the WC situation will allow.

I guess I look at those types of doctors the same way that you might look at public attorneys who are appointed to defend obvious criminals in court. They still have to give that defense their maximum effort, even if it goes against what many people would consider to be “right.” That doctor has chosen that job for reasons only he would know… so I can only hope that sometimes he stops to think about the effect that his actions have on us folks who rely on our WC treatment to keep our pain and lives at least tolerable. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜Ÿ

Happy World Mental Health Day 2019. πŸ˜’πŸŽ‰

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Why Am I Still Surprised? (@Me)

It looks like it is supposed to rain tomorrow and the next day, so even though I’m pretty sure this isn’t “grass planting season,” I went ahead and dumped that bag of soil around my light post out front, spread it out a bit, and covered / mixed it with new “drought resistant” blue-colored grass seed. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸŒΎ The light pole area took the whole bag of dirt, but I did have half a bag of seed left over to spread around the other areas that got weed-whacked down to solid dirt. πŸ€”πŸ˜’Β (And yes, the mailbox gravel is still in my trunk… heh… maybe tomorrow. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ )

It’s partially my fault, because I’ve always told the guys to do whatever they needed to do to clear the yard out and make the mowing easier for them, since there used to be a whole bunch of stuff planted in random places that still tries to pop up. But when a few trees, bushes, and poles end up with big dirt rings / divots around their base… I think it’s safe to say “Okay, I’m pretty sure you got the weeds, buddy.” πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈΒ But I know they’re just trying to earn their money, staying busy while the other guy mows, and the only spot that really bugs me is the light post – because I can’t avoid seeing it when I leave the house.

So even though the dirt is almost as hard as rock around those other areas, I went ahead and threw down the remaining seed and got everything good and soaked with water, with a handful of back-and-forth trips to the spigot with an old watering can I found in the garage. πŸ’¦πŸŒ±πŸŒ±Β Unfortunately that’s about the extent of the oomph I’ve got for right now. πŸ˜₯ (And why I’m taking a break to sit here and blog… heh) I hate it, but between my neck, shoulder, and now lack of a thyroid… I have to accept that there’s an even newer limit to what I can do, even when it comes to this minimal amount of shit. πŸ™„ It was supposed to be old age that slowly took away those abilities, not being broken and having pieces of meat removed. 😠 Meh…

But anyway, it’s done now… πŸ™‚ I’m optimistic about the light pole, and if the other areas can sprout up a little bit of green (whether it’s new grass or “other”) that’ll just be a bonus. Of course I’ll have to let them know to take it easy around those areas for a while, and hopefully they’ll just be like “Kewl. Less work.” and not feel like I’m bitching. (Even though I’m kinda bitching… heh) Laundry and dishes are still on the agenda for today, but only after I chill for a bit, let the Aleve kick in, and maybe catch some of the Xfinity race.

Disappointed, But It’s Alright

Made it through most of the day without thinking about it, but tonight was the night that Skillet performed at Express Live in Columbus. 😟 Indoor show, general admission, standing room only. 😬 It’s those last two bits that got me. (I hate to admit it…) But I made the right choice by not going. Today hasn’t been a great day when it comes to my neck bothering me. Standing, getting bumped around by an appropriately enthusiastic crowd, for a few hoursΒ (Alter Bridge was performing as well) just wouldn’t have worked. πŸ˜•

(But I also know that I’d feel even more disappointed if I made an attemptΒ to go – and then ended up having to leave before the concert was even over because of my oush. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Sigh… it is what it is.)

Finding the positives… πŸ€”Β Okay… I’ve seen Skillet plenty of times, and there’s always the possibility of seeing them again at the right time and right venue, so it’s not like I missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And the show? They’re touring on their newest album, and don’t tell anybody… 🀫 but this album isn’t exactly one of my favorites. And if I don’t count “missed the Skillet concert” then I’ve otherwise had an okay day.

Genesee and Sarah upgraded their security system, so a couple of weeks ago she sent me an extra camera that works with my home security setup, and today I found a place for it and added it to the network. πŸ“ΉΒ So I now have five active security cameras keeping an eye on my house. 😏 A house with hardly any visitors, and even fewer “suspicious” people coming anywhere close to stepping onto my property. It’s the same theory as having the dashcam in my car. Having video cameras installed somewhere almost magically prevents anything worth capturing on video from happening, and that’s a good (yet boring) thing.Β πŸ€“ Touch wood. 🀞🏻

But I kept today low-key, much like yesterday. I did start watching more of the political news coverage… and woo boy… πŸ˜―πŸ˜…Β Whether you believe that the fuss is all justified, or you believe that it’s a witch hunt that’s wasting the government’s time, energy, and money – stuff is sure heating up quickly. πŸ”₯🍊πŸ”₯Β It makes you wonder how any normal, functional, useful “government-ing” gets done. But I think my DVR also caught today’s NASCAR qualifying for me, so after O’Donnell I’ll click over and see how that went. πŸπŸš—πŸš•πŸš™πŸ’¨

I’m not even sure what track they’re at this week. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈΒ (… said the formerly enthusiastic fan of the sport.)

Some Today, Some Tomorrow

Woke up to my neck feeling all janky today… either from sleeping on it wrong, or just from the building stress of the last few days. But I still dragged my ass out of bed with intention today, determined to get some of the stuff on my mental to-do list done. It wasn’t until I was getting ready to leave the house that I realized it was 92 effing degrees outside today. The heat still takes a little more toll on me than it used to, and along with the neck / headache shit – I ended up scaling back my goals just a bit.

First stop was gassing up the Fusion and topping off the air in the tires, then to the bank, then to the post office – to mail out that report for my attorneys. I wish I could snap my fingers and it would just be there, but I’ll have to be okay with them getting it tomorrow and then finally actually looking at it at the start of next week. I’m gonna give Jim a call though and leave him a message, letting him know that it’s coming.

And then since my car has gone from “change oil soon” to “oil change required”, I figured I should go ahead and get that done while I was out today. It was like I suspected though… and why I like these new guys that I go to for service… he said the synthetic blend that I got last time could have actually lasted me many more miles, and the car was only crying because I forgot to inform it that it got synthetic this last time, and didn’t increase the mileage interval before it starts squawking at me. But yeah, for an oil change place to say 7,500 miles on synthetic is cake, and even 10,000 wouldn’t be that bad… that shows some honesty that you wouldn’t always expect.

But by the time the oil change was finished, the base of my skull was thumping and I was feeling pretty meh due to hanging around in the heat as I waited, so I decided that was enough “on the go” chores for the day. Hoping I’ll bounce back overnight tonight, so I can finally go get my hair cut and schedule an eye appointment tomorrow.

Ugh… I hate that the workers comp crap is still in the back of my mind though. Today is a good example of something that would be used against me. “Look! He admits to working on his car!” (Because they’d count putting air into my tires as work.) And if I didn’t specifically state that I took my car somewhere for an oil change, they’d probably claim that I didΒ that myself as well. And of course, regardless of whether I mention any levels of pain or not, there’s this strange “Robert admits to performing multiple chores, including multiple stops at various locations throughout his day.” kind of stuff that’s obviously intended to imply something…

I guess I just thought that I was past the point of having to justify doing things that I simply have to do, or pointing out every time that something causes me difficulty or pain each time I do it. It hurts to do certain things, such as folding laundry, standing and doing dishes, etc… but of course I still have to do those things. I’m not sure how pointing out that I’m still managing to get by, despite my disability and pain, somehow makes me the bad guy. Meh… but anyway… I’m okay with what I was able to accomplish today.

EDIT: After I finished this entry, I remembered something else that annoyed me enough to come back to add this. Weeks ago I learned that Skillet was having a concert at the end of September in Columbus. However, I’m not going to that concert… a concert by one of my most favorite bands… because it’s a general admission show, and it would simply hurt too much to stand and be bumped around for that hour and a half. I’ve fought with myself, trying to make myself go, but I chose not to because I don’t want to hurt. I think I even made an entry where I wondered about “disabled seating” for folks like me… but in the end, despite it being a show I’d desperately love to see, I’m not going. My life is a constant balancing act because of my disability and pain… sometimes I have to do things that hurt (like chores) that I don’t want to do, but I have to. Sometimes I choose to do something fun, despite knowing that fun thing will likely cause me pain… and I think that’s okay too. But then there are examples like this – where I really wanna do something, but I’m not willing to pay the pain-equivalent of “the price of admission” to do it, because I’m that concerned with avoiding extra pain. Yet the legitimacy of my disability and pain is still being questioned, year after year after year…Β  fml.

Predicted? Or Jinxed…

Stayed up late last night, not only trying to get some pics of the lightning, but also watching the delayed Southern 500 which didn’t finish until 2am. I had a feeling… wasn’t really sleepy even at that hour, my neck was feeling different, so I didn’t end up falling asleep for good until around 4a – and at that, it was with the idea of trying to “sleep carefully” so I didn’t wake up with my neck feeling even worse. πŸ˜’ It worked, but only because every time I would stir in my sleep, I’d wake up a little too much – making sure that I wasn’t being rough on my neck. Meh… so five hours of not-so-solid sleep… not in the greatest mood today.

And even using a “lightning capture” app to cheat a bit, I still wasn’t able to capture a single decent photo last night. If I didn’t have the ISO and exposure either too high or too low, resulting in images that were too dark or too blown out – the other problem was just the thickness and multiple layers of the clouds. πŸ˜‘ When the lightning wasn’t bright enough it was just obscured by the clouds, and when it was bright enough – it was like a strobe light going off in the middle of a huge ball of cotton. Just no definition.

So I think today I’ll do the bills, catch up on laundry, just general meh stuff around the house. Once the week actually starts tomorrow, that’s when I’ll have to start worrying about oil changes, glasses, haircuts, and all the other “out and dealing with people” stuff… so keeping to myself and just getting some minor chores done around here actually sounds like the most appealing way to spend my time today, believe it or not. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜•

I’m sure as my morning meds kick in I’ll start to feel better, along with mentally feeling better about getting some random shit done around here. πŸ™‚ I’m just never good when I first wake up, especially when I basically predicted last night that my neck would be an issue and that I’d be glad that today was still part of the 3-day weekend. πŸ™„ Just gonna tune the world out as much as possible, put on some music, and do my thing.

Still Unpredictable, Of Course

I had a scenario today where I was gonna be a backup person in regards to getting a friend to the Sweet Corn Festival for the parade this evening. They’ve got a handful of kids, with some needing to be here, some needing to be there, so basically between scheduling and other helpers and everything – I said I’d be willing to take her or her “band kid” to the parade if needed, because it’s not like I’d mind even seeing the parade myself since it’s been quite a while.

But luckily my name wasn’t drawn, because I woke up today with my neck and back again just feeling a little bit off. 😟 I took my morning meds, including an Rx anti-inflammatory, so hopefully that’ll help… but yeah, after doing some work around the house yesterday, I’m definitely gonna take it easy today. 😳 I just don’t wanna pester my injuries to the point where it screws up my main SCF plan this weekend.

Like it usually is when I have lower back problems, I can’t think of anything specific that I did that would have triggered it… πŸ˜’ and now that I know the damage in my neck could actually affect nerves in my lower back and leg, it does make me nervous when I notice anything different. But just knowing about the damage in itself causes me to be more “aware” about any unusual feelings, and more alert to any changes in general.

So it’s NBD at the moment, but I think I might sleep in the recliner for the next couple of nights – since that’ll keep me from flopping around in bed like I usually do when I sleep. Hopefully if I did tweak something in my neck it was just minimal, and if I try to sleep in a more “still” manner and maybe activate “robot head” for a couple of days (where I either just move my eyes, or move my entire body if I wanna look in any certain direction)Β when I need to look around, I can keep things from getting worse. ‘Cuz this has happened before, and it doesn’t always end with huge pain and the temporary need for a cane.

Just another aspect of testing what I can get away with in my attempts to avoid becoming a potato. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜

It Shouldn’t Be This Challenging

Today’s been kind of a flop. I didn’t have anything on the schedule really, but even after not getting much sleep – I still woke up with some motivation to work on one or two of my extra projects around the house. Also, between the lack of sleep and the shitty weather, I knew today wasn’t a car or glasses day either… so I’ve spent most of the day waiting for my upset stomach to go away so I could do a little of the work that I wanted to do without feeling like I was gonna yack. 🀒

It did make for a nice lazy day though, something that I sometimes struggle with allowing. Texted with Dad quite a bit, along with a few other friends, and then finally decided to go in the kitchen to chop up some green peppers to make some tuna salad for sammiches – to hopefully settle my belly, which it did. πŸ™‚ And to be honest, I was glad to just wake up today without my back being screwed up… something that it was showing signs of before I ended up falling asleep early this morning. 😯😬

So it wasn’t really that today was a flop… it was just unremarkable for the most part, so I wasn’t looking at it in the right way. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ And now that I’m feeling better since this afternoon, I know it’ll help my mood to get some more of my “unessential” stuff done before whenever I fall asleep tonight. Normally my lack of productivity would have made me a little twitchy, but I think I’m still riding along on the thyroid med train – still seeming to get back a little more energy with each day that passes. πŸ€’πŸ€žπŸ» I wish I could explain how bad the bad days really were just a few weeks ago, to emphasize how these little improvements are still a big deal.

I think I might go ahead and pull out the 360 cam and charge it up, in case I feel up to shooting any video at the SCF here in a few days. If not that, I plan on taking a lot more regular pictures this year. It’s been a few years since I’ve bothered, especially since last year’s trip was kind of a shit show from the start. πŸ˜’ And with my mood being decent lately (for the most part anyway…) I’m hoping that it’ll also nudge me towards getting interested in my hobbies like video and photography again. 😟

Every now and then Jim will post one of goofy our old videos on Twitter and I’ll come across it, where we were just goofing off and having fun for random Squirtman themed videos, and it makes me realize how long it’s been since I could truly say that I was having fun at anything, or that I was in a good mood for more than a couple hours out of one day. 😞 I’ve gotta start trying to figure out how to get a little more of that back, despite all of the other non-fun stuff I’ll obviously have to be working on (or facing) as well. 🀨 It wasn’t that many years ago that I was a totally different person, and it’d be nice if I could find my way back toward that at least a little bit. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ If my body will just stay physically un-fucked for a while, I might have a shot at it.

Meh… just thinking out loud again I guess…