Cash for Pills

The medical saga continues…well, it’s not really a saga, but it kind of feels that way. Both the insurance company and doctor’s office are closed for the holiday, but I just got off the phone with my pharmacy. Since I’ve had a prescription for Cymbalta before, they’re able to sell me a few pills rather than fill a prescription. It’s without insurance, so I’m paying cash for three generic pills of Cymbalta. $30 for peace of mind and spirit, I suppose.

Even though my prescription is for 90 mg, I’ve been taking 60 (due to another doctor/insurance kerfufle) and that seems to work. Rather than taking one pills a day, I’ll have to take one every other day until Wednesday, when I have my annual physical.

When my medicine is ready, I’ll zip over to Publix and get it…and start monitoring myself thoughts and feelings to see if I need a pill today or can wait until tomorrow. I can usually skip a day without feeling any side-effects. It’s not ideal, but I’ll make do.

I just wish I didn’t feel like I was self-medicating. Perhaps that’s not the correct term. Managing my own medicine? Perhaps. It’s better than being in the Upside Down, which is what it felt like a few days ago.

Hurray, it’s my untreated, unhealthy mind.

St. Patrick’s Day? Meh. Work, though….

I was never a big drink-in-public kind of guy. I didn’t like paying for drinks when I could just get a bottle from the store, crack it open, and drink in peace. And that was the big thing–there was no peace for me if I drank in public, whether at a restaurant or bar, no matter how intimate the setting. I’m not terribly keen on eating in public, for that matter, but that’s a different matter. I was a closet drinker, and even if I wasn’t, I would have been a home drinker.

The same goes for so-called “drinking holidays,” like St. Patrick’s Day. My city does it up big for St. Patrick’s Day and has a massive parade and gathering downtown rivaled only by festivites in cities like New York and New Orleans. I have never gone downtown on St. Patrick’s Day, never quaffed a green beer in a racous bar, or set foot in anything location bedecked in green and filled with people wearing t-shirts saying, “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” St. Patrick’s Days of the past saw me following my old routine: I drank or I didn’t. If I did, I got drunk. If I didn’t, I felt a small sense of accomplishment, but it was tinged with sadness, because I knew I’d go right back to drinking the next day.

I write all this to say that while yesterday wasn’t a temptation for me (just like the Super Bowl doesn’t cost me a moment’s thought), I imagine it was difficult for a lot of people. I hope everyone fared well. I’m grateful for over two years of sobriety, and the only threat to it as my job.

I teach middle school English, and it’s the hardest, most wretched position I’ve ever taken. The worst part –and this is the reason I left my previous public education job, though it was alternative school–is I’m forced into combative situations with students in every class. Multiple times a day, day after day, week after week. I haven’t drank over it yet, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it a lot. It’s easy to fantasize about disconnecting, drinking enough to forget my job and troubles with students, but the solution would be painfully short, and I’d pay like hell for it the next day. And the day after that because I’d start drinking at the same killing pace where I stopped.

I applied for two jobs today (and sent poems to three markets!) and am hopeful about both. Contracts come out next month, and while I don’t think my principal will offer me one, I’d love to have a job lined up so I could politely decline it and thank him for his support. I’m just not cut out for teaching middle school, and now I know. Actually, I knew it after the first two weeks. I’m sure my administration knows it, too.

Anyway, it’s Spring Break for me and my family, so I have some down time for a week. After that, we have state-mandated testing. And then, according to a teacher who was at my school last year, “things go downhill, fast,” and not in a good way. She told me to expect more arguments, fights between students, and even lower morale among teachers. Fantastic, I thought.

Hopefully, I’ll have a new job lined up soon, and I can take this last year as a learning experience. I’ll certainly be happier, and so will my family.

That’s it from me, folks. Happy sober Saturday to all.

Sober but Twitchy Christmas Eve

There were many Christmas Eves when by this time (1o:45 AM) I would have already been on my way to being drunk. If we were visiting relatives, I’d have little wine bottles hidden in my bag, or I’d sneak into the kitchen and find whatever liquor was available and have three or four shots. I’d keep a good base-line buzz until after lunch when I’d find myself alone as family did Christmas things, and then I got down to the real drinking. I’d chew gum, brush my teeth, drink water, even take an alcohol-induced nap…and no one seemed to notice. Perhaps they were so used to be isolating myself–even during Christmas–that they didn’t notice or get to close to me. I spoke little for fear of slurring my words.

During the evening, when it was more acceptable to drink wine, I’d knock it back and replenish myself by darting upstairs and drinking more. To anyone paying attention, I had no more than two glasses of wine on Christmas Eve. I knew the truth, though I vigorously blocked it from my mind: I was probably bordering on alcohol poisoning, as I had many times before. I’m amazed that my drinking history doesn’t include a trip or two to the hospital.

On January 5, 2017, I’ll have two years of sobriety…and I have no plans of fucking that up. But under the guidance of my psychiatrist, I’m in the process of switching anti-depressants. I’m tapering off one, and it’s a quick taper. I spoke to my psychiatrist before leaving down because I felt I was going to explode out of my skin…I also felt like running into a brick wall repeatedly. On top of that, I felt like I had an enormous hole in the middle of myself that I desperately needed to fill. I know what I would have filled it with before, and the thoughts whizzed through my mind, but I didn’t act on them.

Today is hard, but I feel better than yesterday. I have an anti-anxiety pill if things get to bad. I wanted to type this entry to hold myself accountable and reach out to some fellow alcoholics.

I hope this finds you all well. Merry and sober Christmas Eve.



Dragging Myself into the Light

I’m still here, still sober…and still overwhelmed. Well, I’m less overwhelmed now because we have our winter break coming up. I should already be on vacation, but our school system is making up for days lost due to Hurricane Matthew. It’s okay–my students and I can make it through two more days.

I think because I see a break coming up, I’m willing to get back on WordPress and interact (at least on social media…I have a spotty record at best when it comes to real life interactions).

I started seeing a new therapist whom I like very much, and now I have a psychiatrist managing my medication for anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. It’s not difficult for me to go to therapy or to see my psychiatrist…but it’s hard as hell to talk to other people in person. I can’t use that awkwardness to avoid socializing. I have to remind myself, as silly as it may sound to some, I’m a human being. Due to basic biological programming, I need people. I have my wife and children, of course, but I need to be part of a bigger tribe. Otherwise, I get trapped in my head, and that can be bad despite my effective medication.

My sobriety is in a good place. I think about drinking at least once or twice a day, but the thoughts are passing. If I’m at the store and pass a bottle wine, I might think Man, it would be nice to drink that like a non-alcoholic person.  And then I move on.

I hope this post finds everyone well. Happy sober Sunday.

A Recovering Alcoholic Walks into a School…

…and to be more specific, “A recovering alcoholic with clinical depression, OCD, severe anxiety and bi-polar spectrum disorder walks into a school and does the best he can, and soon discovers he needs a lot of help.”

I’m out sick today, as I was yesterday, with some sort of illness that may very be the accumulation of stress at school. For those new to the blog, I teach English to 8th graders. The situation is, in a word, awful. I left public school years ago for definite reasons. Also, I was drinking myself blind in order to get through that time, a pattern which stayed when I moved onto a less stressful job environment.

I’m a good teacher, but my strength isn’t with middle-schoolers. It probably isn’t with high-schoolers, either, since I did that before and left completely disillusioned. Of course, I taught at an alternative school then, with an administration that supported only certain teachers. In my current situation, not only are the students a serious challenge, the county’s requirements for the teachers seem impossible to reach. I do best when I work with adults, teaching reading and writing, but there aren’t any schools in the area except one that offers that as a job. I worked there for five years and left because of the insane demands placed on teachers (seven classes per semester).

I wish my summer job search had yielded different results, but it didn’t. I took this job because I needed money. I was hopeful that I would find my niche in middle school, but that isn’t the case. I’m on the verge of severe panic attacks nearly daily and relying on a new medication to prevent them. Before work, I’m nauseous and sometime throw up. One morning, I sat in my car, pounded the steering wheel, and burst into tears.

I’m going to the doctor in a hour to see if I can get another effective medication that doesn’t carry the risk of dependency like the one I’m taking as a last resort (which is quickly becoming the only option). I’m also in the process of getting a psychiatrist to manage my meds.

I have to make it through the school year; breaking my contract isn’t an option. At this point, I’m not concerned about flourishing; I’m concerned about maintaining my sobriety and surviving. The only bright spots at my school are a few of my fellow teachers who know my situation and are supportive, and my great administration. I’m aware that I’m quite fortunate in that regard.

Perhaps if I can get my meds right, I’ll be able to move out of survival mode. I’m trying to be hopeful, but it’s hard.

I’ll take any positive thoughts, good vibes, and prayers. Thanks.