How I Got Here – Gains vs Loses

I lost it all. At least that’s how I felt.  No more steady high dollar income, no more life of crime, no more single life and no more steroids.

My life changed drastically 4 years ago. Some of the changes were voluntary, while others were forced upon me. Instead of appreciating what I would gain in my new life, I could only focus on what I no longer had.

My ex-girlfriend and I were moving in together to start a life as a family with her son. He was 3 at the time and I wasn’t going to allow him to be raised around a man who was selling drugs. He deserved better than that.  So I quit my lucrative profession of choice for the last 20 years and I had no idea what I was going to do.

Luckily, I had saved up a nice nest egg to make sure we would be well taken care of for a couple years. However, I totally lost perspective of that.  All I could think about was what in the hell was I going to do now.

I was lost and I certainly didn’t have the work ethic to go work for someone else. My ego told me that was beneath me.  I was an entrepreneur, so I had to figure out a way to be my own boss. It’s amazing what ego and arrogance can lead you to believe.

I was forced to give up using steroids because a scan found pool ball sized tumors on my liver. The doctors told me they were liver adenomas from using steroids and I had to quit using immediately. Two years later I found out they were cancerous and had be removed, but that’s a story for another time.

I had been using steroids off and on for the last 10 years. The last 2-3 years I used them continuously.  I was obsessed with how I looked and how “big” my muscles were. If I had to rank the importance in my life, it was in the top 3 things I cared about most.

Without steroids my muscles quickly diminished and my clothes no longer fit like they once did.  I would put on a shirt I used to love and have a meltdown complaining about how it used to fit.  I lost 15 pounds in a couple weeks. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without clothes on. (more…)


As I walked out of my office to my car, I picked up my dog to put her in the backseat and I noticed someone had smacked into my rear bumper.  There was plastic on the ground from my headlight and my bumper was dented .  I walked around to in hopes of finding a note from the person who hit my unattended car.  I wasn’t shocked when when I didn’t find one.

Now I’m sitting at the auto body shop at 2:30 on a Thursday, waiting for the guy to come out of his meeting and give me an estimate.  I’m bored and annoyed because I have to be here dealing with this.  I had to come in here to do a bunch of shit I could have easily done over the phone with them.  My day could be filled with way more productive activities; who’s the asshole that decided this ridiculous process was worth anyone’s time?

Then it hit me. Why the fuck am I complaining about some first world problems?  My life’s real hard.  I’m getting an estimate for damage on my car when most people would be working.  My life allows me the freedom to take care of life’s annoying little inconveniences whenever I choose.  I make those decisions for me.

At face value, I should be super grateful and realize how fortunate I am to have the time and resources to take care of mishaps like this when they occur.  Others aren’t always that lucky.  My life’s a cakewalk in a lot of ways.

It’s all this kind of bullshit that so many people, including myself, allow to ruin our day or frustrate us.  But life happens, that’s just the way it is.  The sooner we learn that lesson and roll with the bullshit we’re dealt, the sooner we can get on with focusing on how great life is.

A couple of years ago I would have been pissed off and argued with the people at the shop for wasting my time.  Now I accept it and go about my day.  I’m not telling this to prove how mature and well balanced I am, because I’m certainly neither of those things.  I’m saying this to create perspective.

18 months ago I was laying in a hospital bed cut open from my sternum to my stomach, worrying if my cancer had spread.  Now im blessed enough to be here today being annoyed because I lost 20 minutes of my day.  Seems crazy to let this bother me when I frame the situation in that context.

Life’s bullshit will always get in our way, there’s no way around it.  Our problems scale depending on how severe they are and how capable we are of handling them.  The thing to remember is every problem is temporary, even the most serious ones.  Eventually circumstances will change and those problems will no longer be an issue.  Even the sickest person’s problems end once they pass on and become energy again.  That’s the cycle of life.

Stressing and being angry only robs any chance of happiness in the present and possibly the future depending on how we deal with it  Whatever it is, it will pass.  I forget all to often I had cancer 18 months ago.  Sometimes it’s nice to remind myself I’m going to die one day.  It forces me to live and experience all I can today.  That’s the purpose of life, to experience all that we can in the short time we have.  Good and bad, it all writes our story, it’s how life works.

The Thing About Expectations and Assumptions


I woke up exhausted, still trying to recover from my Thursday night, which ended at 6:30 Friday morning.  I didn’t want to get out of bed and face everything I had to do today.

My day has been riddled with expectations and assumptions.  I’ve been agitated all day by the littlest things.  My mind is running wild with fear and aggravation.

This morning I went to visit the job site for a rehab I am financing.  The drive took far longer than I had anticipated.  There was traffic, cars moving slowly on single lane road and I seemed to hit every red light.  By the time I got to the site I was annoyed.  I met with my friend who is doing the rehab, only to find the lockbox holding the key to the house was stuck shut.  He tried repeatedly to open it with no avail.  We were locked out.

Since he will be replacing the windows, he broke one and we climbed in like cat burglars.  During our walk through I wasn’t exactly impressed with the progress.  I was having trouble envisioning how the finished product would look.  I had expected to see a greater amount of work done on the property.

This was the first time I saw the house since the rehab began.  I haven’t been asking for updates, nor have I looked at the project schedule.  I had nothing to base progress off of except my own unspoken expectations.  If I had been more involved with the project and the work schedule I might be able to assess if things are on track or not.

Once my expectations came into play my mind immediately became filled with negative thoughts.  I second guessed my investment,  “Why did I get myself involved in this?”  Will I get my investment back?  I pictured the worst case scenario playing out.

I took that same mindset with me to the gym.  My mind kept me from pushing myself and having the workout I wanted.  It wasn’t a bad workout, but it didn’t quite meet the expectation I had in my head.  My arms didn’t get the pump I thought I usually get.  I couldn’t push the weight I normally use.  Whether or not any of this was reality I’m not sure.  But my mind sold the idea to me and made me believe it.

A friend of mine text me to say hello and see how my day was going.   Her replies weren’t fast enough for my liking.   I was annoyed.  Why would she text me in the first place if she didn’t want to have a conversation?  I made assumptions about her reasons that drove me crazy. (more…)

I’m Kicking Again

man having painful depressionCrawling out of my skin; all the familiar symptoms rush over my mind and body.  Weakness and fatigue beating me down.  My body fluctuating from hot to cold.  The inability to think or focus because my mind is clogged up and foggy with thoughts that don’t serve me well.  Restlessness and irritation.  The bloating and stomach pains.  The night sweats.  All this evidence leads me to one conclusion: I’m going through withdrawal.

My doctor has prescribed me Xanax for several years now.   I have been using it to fall sleep on a regular basis for the last 18 months.  I’ve tried many other natural supplements and sleep techniques over that time period with little to no success.  I know its not the best option, but it’s worked for me.

I’ve slept horribly for the better part of 15 years.  I wake up numerous times every night.  A myriad of factors effect my ability to get enough sleep.  Having to urinate during the night, body pains, anxiety and the inability to shut off my mind are the main culprits.

I decided several weeks ago that it was time to wean myself off Xanax.  I have become dependent on it for sleep, but my body has developed a tolerance to it.  Continuing to take it this medication in the future isn’t a sustainable option.

Coming off of benzo’s can be a very difficult and dangerous process.  Quite often people experience very adverse side effects including seizures.  I tried kicking cold turkey when I was in California a month ago and the withdrawal symptoms were too great.  I didn’t want to ruin my vacation.

When I returned home from vacation I decided it was time to come off.  I cut my usual dosage in half for two weeks; then in half again for another two weeks.  I should have kept taking it every other day for another week or two, but I was ready to come off.

It’s been over seven months since I had to kick opiates.  I’m employing many of the same supplements and methods I have in the past to mitigate some of the side effects:

  • Plenty of water with fresh squeezed lemon – Withdrawal makes me very dehydrated.  I’m drinking at least 1.5 gallons of water a day.  This keeps me hydrated and the lemon is a natural way to detox the liver.
  • Vitamin C –  Keeps the immune system healthy.  There’s been studies showing mega doses can ameliorate withdrawal symptoms in opiate addicts.
  • Magnesium – It calms the nervous system and lessens anxiety.
  • Getting plenty of sunlight – This is important for vitamin D production.  Being in the sun makes me feel invigorated and my mood appreciates.  Taking a walk in the sun is shown to release oxytocin which is known as the “happiness hormone.”
  • Exercise – No matter how weak I feel, partaking in some sort of exercise always aids in this process.  It gets the blood flowing, endorphin’s going and takes my focus off of other symptoms.
  • L-Tyrosine – This amino acid helps immensely with energy.  Unlike with caffeine or other stimulants, L-Tyrosine does not make me jittery.  It gives me nice, smooth, prolonged energy.  It can also increase dopamine in the brain to counteract depression.
  • Alleve – To deal with all the body aches and pains.

Last night I tried smoking weed to counteract how miserable I felt.  Getting high completely wiped me out to the point where I could barely function.  It took me 20 minutes to walk my dog around the block.  My motor functions slowed to a crawl.  I lay on my couch half paralyzed until I fell asleep.

I stopped taking Xanax seven days ago.  The last two days my symptoms have been the most intense.  As I write this I’m not sure if it will turn out to be intelligible.  My brain is barely functioning and my body would like to shut down.  However, I feel like am nearing the tail end of this debacle.

This experiment didn’t go as smoothly as planned.  Nonetheless, It’s a surreal feeling knowing what I’m going through internally and still having the ability to be in control of my feelings and emotions. Having a clear head and being in a more stable place in my life makes handling this situation much easier.  It’s a completely different experience then kicking drugs I was using recreationally.

I May Not be as Batshit Crazy as I thought – Dealing With my OCD Thoughts

Up until recently (Im 35 now) I never understood the thoughts that I obsess about on a daily basis. The things that just pop up into my head and I play out in my mind OVER AND OVER again. Sometimes I even have conversations out loud with the person or thing I am obsessing over.  I just figured this was either all natural and normal or I was just a deeply disturbed person.  Either way my thoughts tortured me continuously.  From the moment I woke up until I Xanax’d myself to sleep I would just obsess over these horrible thoughts.

Some of the times I did not mind some of these obsessions.  For instance, I would have thoughts of running into people who wronged me as a child and exacting my revenge on them.  However, many of my obsessions would come on so strong they would literally make my head tingle with anxiety and feel of nauseous  deep in the pit of my stomach.  The unwanted thoughts were derived from fears and insecurity. Things like what my girlfriend or ex-girlfriend would be doing with another man.  Thoughts of gloom and doom, like how my life was a complete failure.  I would have unwanted thoughts about someone randomly hitting my dog with their car and killing her.  I would then allow the thought to continue on as far as to how I would kill the person after they killed Maddie.

I continually had obsessions of myself failing at all my business ventures and as a person. I would picture myself losing everything I had.  My life as I know it, my money, the people I love and it would end with me committing suicide.  These obsessions occurred so often that I started accepting them as a likely outcome for my future.  My unwanted thoughts had just become to much for me to handle and I doubted everything and anything positive in my life.

One day I was driving and I was listening to Howard Stern and he was talking about his OCD. He and his guest were talking about the obsessive thoughts and something just resonated with me. It was like listening to a part of my story.  Once I heard this and thought about it an odd sense of calm came over me.  It was like finding a small clue to solve a huge mystery.  For a brief period of time my obsessions just stopped.

Now I only really thought of OCD as people who was their hands 100 times in a row or touch light switches 26 times before they could leave the house.  I later found those were examples of the compulsions.  The obsessions or unwanted thoughts are what drove those compulsions.  To oversimplify this all, this condition stems from “faulty wiring” in certain parts of the brain.  I talked to my therapist about my thoughts on OCD and he recommended I read a book called “Brain Lock.”  I related to so much in this book.  The more I read the better I felt.  There were so many examples of people in the book with the same exact obsessions and odd thought I experience.  For example, many people besides myself have irrational fears and thoughts when they are holding a knife or dangerous object that they may use it on someone they care about.  I used to have these unwanted thoughts often and they really made me feel like I was an evil, demented person.  In reality they were just unwanted, irrational thoughts that I would never act upon.  All these insane thoughts I had could finally be explained and there was hope to have a life without them.

Brain Lock lays out a 4 step plan to deal with these obsessions.

  • Step 1: Relabel
  • Step 2: Reattribute
  • Step 3: Refocus
  • Step 4: Revalue

Essentially, what I do with these principles is tell myself its just an unwanted thought and I do not need to pay attention to it.  Then I direct my attention to something else that is constructive. For example when a thought about my demise may come up, I will stop the obsession in its tracks and turn my thoughts to my work.  I an write, read something uplifting or exercise.  The book coined the slogan “its not me its my OCD.”  This may sound really fucking cheesy, but I can repeat this simple statement daily and it truly helps me deal with the obsessions.

Don’t get me wrong these unwanted thoughts continually pop up in my mind and haunt me still to this day more often than I would like.  Sometimes they kick my ass pretty bad.  However I now understand the skill set to handle these obsessions.  Some times they still get the better of me and they take me to a dark place that’s very bad for me.  I still have a lot of work to do, but I can see the progress I have made in 3 short months.  The feeling of freedom from unwanted thoughts that sabotage the good in my life.  These results make me very hopeful for the future.