Matt With MS

I am uninspiring, fairly lazy, living in denial, and think I'm having the time of my life 90% of the time. Let's change that.

Month: March, 2016

You got this, part II

A few years ago, I did a youtube video for a campaign for newly diagnosed MS patients.  “You got this” was the theme, and in it you would give a message to people that just learned that they had MS.

In it, I was upbeat, I thought I was sincere, and I knew I was trying to help.  I just wasn’t listening to myself.  I have never listened to myself.  Not just with MS, but with everything in my life.  I question even the way I truly feel and why I do the things I do, at all times.

I overthink things until they are my obsession, the only thing I can concentrate on.  When it’s work, I make money, and I do well.  When it’s my health, I go over the top trying to be healthy.  When it’s someone else, I put too much effort into a friendship, and worse, relationships with women.

It’s time I stop thinking and start doing.  This is 100% a call to arms for myself, but also a drawing of a line in the sand.  It’s time to get going again, and get to a better place, one that I was reaching for in January, and in the summer of 2014, for some of the wrong reasons, but with the right results.

I’m in San Diego right now, finishing up work for the day, while my friends are out.  This weekend I’ll have fun, but after it’s over, I’ll go back to San Francisco, work on Monday, and end up back in Alameda looking at myself in the mirror.  Will I feel regret, shame, sadness, and a longing to connect with someone that way I always do?  Will I feel ok, and just shuffle into life as it is?  Will I feel great, and ready to pounce on the world and make it mine?  I’m guessing not the latter, but why not.

I’m going to make up rules to go over what I’ve been doing to myself for the past month and overall for the past three years, and I’m going to stick with them.  I’m going to actively try to change the way I think by first changing my actions.

First, back to something more healthy.  I’m thinking modifying what life was on the Whole30 diet and bringing it closer to Paleo.  I need to stop casual drinking (something I never did too much;  it was always feast or famine, a term I liked to call “social binge drinking”).  I need to stop any eating of absolute shit.  And I need to actively think about the way I get down on myself, and about life.

To accomplish this, I have some ideas.  The easy ones first.  I need to get my life in order with simple things.  Clean the room, get my cars registration in order, clean that thing too, and start cooking meals again.  I bought a multicooker and it was my favorite thing ever, I can start to use that again.  I can save some money and go shopping as opposed to eating out every day.  This will lead to a healthier me, which is also the goal.

Next, I’m going to make it an absolute point to get exercise.  The gym, walks, golf even.  Anything that gets me out and about.  I need to be on top of this too, because it helps with depression, MS effects, and sleep, all things I need to stay on top of.

Then the bigger stuff.  I need to get back to regularly taking my MS meds and my vitamins that were helping me feel better in the beginning of the year and over the last two years.  I missed a delivery a few months ago, and am running out of pills for MS.  I haven’t taken my tecfidera regularly in the last 2 months.  That’s horrible.  Get on the phone, get the prescription set back up, and get on it.

Drinking and going out.  I want to do this to meet people, women.  I feel like I need to do that because of what I just experienced, but in all honesty, I’m not going to meet anyone or have a chance with anyone if I do, without getting on top of my shit.

Drinking has enabled me to grow the courage to talk a woman in the last few weeks, and that’s what it does.  But, I don’t need that, I just need to do good things and move forward.

During the week, no more drinking at all, and going out Friday and Saturday, then day drinking on Sunday isn’t an option either.  Save the good times, and celebrate them when it’s worth it.  Drinking after work because you don’t want to go home isn’t an excuse.

The hardest challenge comes to my own self confidence, anxiety, and purely the way I think.  Challenge the feelings you have, and make yourself aware when you feel bad.  Acknowledge it and move it along as a thought, instead of ruminating on worries and fears and feelings that you suck or aren’t worth anything.  Thoughts of the future shouldn’t all be motivating or deflating, as I should enjoy the present more.  Remember the good times, and be that person that rises above the things that you go through, and even put yourself through.

Finally, get back to having a good time.  Enjoy work, enjoy your friends, enjoy just walking outside into the sun.  Staying miserable will just make you more miserable.  Everyone knows that.  It’s time to move on, and not from anyone or anything, but from what you do to yourself.

Therapy, exercise, healthy eating, less partying and again, no smoking.  These things will make you feel better again, and they didn’t make you happy in January, but they did make you feel well enough that you could see a future you liked with someone, and one that you liked with yourself.

So, in the spirit of the video from 2014, I can do this.  I will do this.  I’m starting right now.

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What do I want?

I want to be happy. I saw what that was a few weeks ago. I felt like there was nothing in the world that could take me down.

I started to do things I’ve put off for months or years, that needed to be done. I would wake up every morning, turn off my alarm, and get right in the shower.

I looked forward to conversations with friends who were feeling down. I knew I could help brighten their day, and wanted to have that chance.

I looked at my job and my career and was proud. I was excited to take on new challenges and my desk, email, and calendar were easy to organize.

I took vitamins and my MS meds every morning and every night. I would get tired of sitting inside and just go for a walk. I would look at the sunset and smile.

The cool air at night, and even rain seemed nice. I didn’t long for the warm to come back, and was happy walking to work from Bart with a stiff breeze in my face.

I looked at MS and wanted to help others win, to help the people worse off than me find a cure for them, not so much for me, because I was feeling fine.

I would look in the mirror and see my weight loss and be excited to lose more, and happy at what I’d accomplished.

Getting done work meant I would head home, and cook dinner. I was excited to try new recipes.

I would fall asleep, early, because I was tired. I would usually be texting or playing some stupid game on my phone, in bed, and sleep would just ease in.

Now I can’t sleep. I wake up 3 times a night, with a feeling of anxiety in my stomach.

I look in the mirror and see what else needs to change and just get tired thinking about the work I have to put in.

I hate being alone, anywhere, and want to be around people at all times, but then when I am, I don’t want to keep talking about bad shit, and I want to leave.

Any plans in my future seem like effort. They seem like something that will just take too much energy to do.

I think about cooking and even ordering food and decide that I don’t want to do that until I get to point where I just need to eat. Food’s not that appetizing anyway.

I get to work and the computer screen hurts my head. Staring at it makes me feel like I have so much stuff to put in order, and I’m so behind.

I throw my clothes on the ground until they pile up too high, then I put them in laundry bags until I get to the point where I need to wear something so bad I have to clean them, or pay like 80 bucks to get a washing service to do it.

I listen to my friends problems and try to relate but end up just coming back to my own issues again and again, feeling selfish, but uncontrollable at the same time.

I forget to take my vitamins every day, sometimes taking them when I get home, sometimes not; same thing with the meds.

I wake up with a shriek, and instantly want to go back to sleep. Usually this is around 5:30-6am so I change my alarm to a little later, but when I roll back over, I can’t fall asleep. I can’t think clearly. I just worry.

I have a feeling I haven’t had in a long, long, time. Just a general uncomfortable feeling that makes me feel like things aren’t right anywhere I am.

I want to be in public, but I don’t want to talk to people. I see the look of care my friends have when I say something sad, and that feeling hurts me. I don’t want to be around sad people, I feed off the energy of everyone I’m around. But, I’m the one making that feeling exist.

What changed? There’s the easiest answer; I was falling in love and that person decided they weren’t feeling the same way. That throws anyone for a loop. I mean if you asked people why they were sad, I would guess relationships, or lack there of, would be high on that list.

But, while I agree that this is a big factor in how I’m feeling right now, a few of the weeks when I was feeling my greatest were when I was starting to realize this relationship was in trouble.

I could, at that point, look at it and say, “if this is for real, it will work.”   I could look in the mirror and feel like another relationship would come along if this didn’t work.

While I told myself all of this, a few things changed as well.

I started smoking every now and then. I started drinking more and more, I stopped eating healthy, and I stopped exercising.

I started it off having a blast every time I went out. By this last weekend, I was back to where I’ve been way too much in the last 3 years of my life. Sitting at a friend’s house drinking, and trying to not feel anything.

I think it’s easy to point to the relationship falling apart making me want to drink and feel better.

I don’t know if that’s the direction I’d go, though.   Maybe it’s me losing my healthy streak, and losing all of the good things I was doing for myself, that put me in a position where I can’t weather a sad turn in my life.

Maybe, I know now, that my MS symptoms are much more containable if I try to be healthy.   I know that trying to drink to forget it only worsens my constant battle with depression, that’s lasted the last 10 years off and on.

Maybe, I know that dealing with my issues, makes them go away. That sounds simple, I know.

Maybe, I am realizing that my life is changing, and what I want in my life is so much different than I thought before.

Maybe I’m realizing that my approach towards the future has been off for a long, long time, and just now I’m realizing I need to improve that to finally achieve what I want for myself.

Maybe I’m realizing, that while I tried really hard to put myself in the best position for this to work, the last few months, I also did it for her, and not for me. That’s never going to work out in the long run. Maybe I’m realizing that as much as I was crazy about her, for about 90 percent of her, there was still that last 10 percent that was off.  Maybe she saw that 10 percent in me, or in us, and knew it wasn’t there.

Maybe I’m realizing that I’m going to do this again, with someone else. Maybe that person will make me feel the same way. But If that feeling is saving me from feeling like I do right now, and have, off and on, for the last few years, there will be no chance for that relationship either.

Maybe I realize that a lot of the things I did in this relationship, were out of fear. Fear that she wouldn’t think I stacked up and was “good enough.”

Maybe I’m realizing that that fear, and that feeling, is never going to lead to anything healthy for me again. Maybe I realize that if I choose to not change a lot of the ways I think and live, I will keep reliving this, over and over.

Hopefully I realize soon; that isn’t a choice I can allow myself to make.

Always, “what’s next?”

It seems like the “journey” with a chronic disease is more of a loop.   At least for me.  There’s times when I can easily just see a bright future where I want certain things for myself, and it’s easy to fall into, “fuck it, the future will suck, live it up now.”

I get motivated, usually by some external force, I do healthy stuff, I feel better, something bad happens, I feel worse, and I slowly slide into more and more unhealthy habits.  I guess that’s everyone’s problem.  I guess that’s not unique to me, to MS, or to anything.

The question for me is, “how do you stop this?”  I need to find an answer because living like this is a waste.  I didn’t fully enjoy a trip to Puerto Vallarta and another to San Diego, because I’m feeling down about myself.   That feels sickening to even say, because in reality, having the opportunity to do these trips is something that a very small percentage of people have.

The worst part for myself is the physical pain I feel in my stomach, but what makes it so much worse is the guilt I feel for even feeling sad or depressed.  I live a great life, I’ve said it many times here.

I think people need to be able to look at any situation outside of their own spectrum.  You need to be able to take a step back, breathe, and then assess everything like you are looking through the eyes of someone unconnected, and then through the eyes of someone close to the situation, often the person directly opposite you.  If you have a problem or disagree with someone else, take a look at the situation from their perspective, it will at least help you relate to where they are coming from.

This, for me, is easy when it comes to most things.  I pride myself on being able to see the world and respect other people’s perspectives.  When it comes to my personal life, and my thoughts about myself, that was, and is, never the case.

It’s easy to blame MS and the finality of the diagnosis for this.  It’s easy to use that as a crutch for why I’m upset whenever things don’t go perfectly.  It’s not correct, though.

If I’m going to believe what I’ve said before; “MS isn’t you, it’s not even a piece of you,” then I have to believe that this is a separate problem.  All I can give MS, in this fight, is that it clouds your judgement towards all things and makes you question if this disease is the reason things are the way they are.

After that, I have to put the rest on myself.  I have to look in the mirror and stare through the bad thoughts to the good ones.  Through my memories of actions and mistakes I’ve made to the wonderful moments where life was shining.  Through the clouded self-perception I have right now, and to the part of me that I actually like a lot.

I tend to talk things through, to a fault.  When speaking with friends in the last few weeks, a constant is that I need to fully get the confidence I should have.  I agree, but I feel that my one fear is valid.

I know myself, and I know that confidence and cockiness are tied closely together.  If I was truly as confident as people would like me to be, I fear that I would just be a cocky prick, which is a small part of me that I hate.

That leads to the conundrum of trying to be a nice person for someone that overthinks everything.  The fact that I take things hard and am self critical when they do go wrong, makes me a better and more likable me.  The fact that I take things hard, also, leads me to desperate decisions, which a lot of times are unhealthy and poor choices, which makes up the worst parts of me for those that care about me.

Now, add in my tendency to look for the blame and cause of things that happen, and you’re left with me looking inwardly and either blaming myself, and just concluding that “I’m messed up” or it leads to me blaming others or just blaming MS.  When this latter thing happens, I tend to look for anyway to forget about it.  That leads to drinking more, that leads to eating shit, and sitting in my room playing video games or watching Netflix.  That leads to nothing good.

There’s really no conclusion here that is a “let’s get this!” type advancement.  There’s nothing to tie up this thought process, and nothing that would make me just move towards a decision or a goal.  There’s nothing, but a sense of somber bewilderment at the fact that I am the same person who wrote from Mexico City a few weeks ago.  That person wasn’t the happiest, but that person also could easily look at their life with (what I think is) a more accurate and positive perspective.

A few days later, a lot of drinking in Puerto Vallarta and a few unreturned texts later, and I was on the path that’s kept me down through the most exciting years in my life.  I really have no idea where it came from.  I really have no idea what’s next, and this brings me to the one conclusion-ish thing I can draw from this.  Not knowing is life, not knowing is what makes finding out exciting.  Not knowing when you have something “wrong” with you, is terrifying.   Not knowing when you have a disease that reacts differently in different weather, at different times, with different diets, and with different people, is what makes accepting and moving on with MS so difficult.