Conscientiously Stepping Out of the Mire

Belated Story About My Trip to Las Vegas!
sawigajig
I took some planning and some doing, but I made it to Las Vegas in the first week of August this year of 2016. It was mind-blowing! I met *so* many celebrities, it was unreal! The Rio Suites was a beautiful beautiful hotel/casino (Harrah's was--eh). I was conscientious with my money (despite the occasional splurge).

Among the celebrities I met were none other than Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner (now, I've met all 4 of the remaining cast members) and Whoopi Goldberg!



It was an experience I'll never forget (including meeting a beautiful woman by the name of Katrina--but that's another story!)

I Helped to Save a Life Yesterday
sawigajig
So, yesterday I was in the YMCA locker room looking to shower off after my usual 2 and a half hours in the pool. There was a gentleman in a towel who spoke to me saying: "could you do me a favor?" I was a little hesitant since it was a men's locker room and I have a mind that frequents the gutter. But, I said sure. He said: "could you go downstairs and tell them to get an ambulance?" I asked him to repeat to be sure I got that right. "My pulse is down to 20. I need an ambulance." So with a towel around my waist, I bolted out of the locker room without a moment to spare and quickly made my way down the stairs to the staff on duty and told them the situation. They called, 911 and they had a team of YMCA people go up the stairs and tend to the man. Later on I went back up their to shower and they took down my name and number as the person who told them what was going on. As I left the YMCA, one of the staff members shook my hand and told me that I had done something important. He repeated it a couple times. "I help save a life?" I thought. I didn't resuscitate the guy or anything. But, it felt good and I hope it will shave some of my bad karma.

Also, I went to Las Vegas a few weeks ago (I'll get into that more later!)

Hired!
sawigajig
So, after nearly 6 years I will be returning to the workforce. I'd like to think the majority of that time was used or constructive purposes (losing nearly 140 lbs so far, volunteering and building up of a resume, making social connections through volunteering, getting my finances in order, emotional healing). To be honest, I will miss the life I've had for 4 or so of the last 6 years. It's been a peaceful time and I think I've sculpted myself into a better person and created a good launching point for a better life.

It's been a long time coming. Bellingham is a triple college town and the pickings are slim unless you are part of a certain demographic there (as far as I've seen). There have been so many interviews that had led nowhere, resumes and cover letters sent out, so many classes on various aspects of employment and skill building and I nearly lost hope of ever being employed for the rest of my adult life.

So, you might be wondering: what's this job? It's been at a senior center I've been volunteering at for the last year. I've gotten good marks from them and they were the ones who offered me the job. Today I talked to Tresa, the now former manager (today was her last day) and she informed me that I was indeed hired (I'll get the final confirmation in a few weeks). It will be as an administrative assistant for 10-15 hours a week, which being on disability suits me fine--it will help with a good work/life balance. This place has a very friendly atmosphere and I get weekends off! I'll just have to make sure I take a notepad with me every day I'm there to make sure I remember every task I'm issued. I'll do fine.

Thank you all for believing in me and for your support!


A Holiday Miracle (4 years stable!)
sawigajig
In December 2011, I was all set to take my own life. I bought all the implements. I studied a method using those implements from the book, Final Exit. I was set.

The year before had me on the ropes. I was thousands of dollars in debt. I lost thousands of dollars of my possessions from the give-away from my manic episode. My job was gone. I weighed nearly 400 lbs from the Lithium, Depakote and general poor diet (and developed Type 2 diabetes on top of that). All of this hit me in the course of a year. I had had enough.

I spent (what I thought) the last night of life overeating and trying to psych myself for the end. I had prepared a multi-page suicide note that had said, "Please Forgive Me" written on the envelope. I was ready to go.

But, there was something in me that told me to call the Crisis Line. I cried and I wailed to them and I disclosed what was happening. I knew that the usual routine would await me: a trip to the emergency room, an examination, being housed with a bunch of unstable people, be given meeds that wouldn't truly work, and ultimately sent back out to the world to be ripped to pieces and set up for another go-round to the hospital in the future.

So, I was processed, and I cried all the way through and ultimately I was ready. Then they weighed me…I had lost 20 lbs! I had done nothing except stopped taking the Depakote and Lithium, but there it was: 20 lbs--I was 376!

And then I checked my messages, and my friend Kristen left a message just telling me that she cared. It wasn't prompted. She just wanted to. I was moved--and encouraged.

And lastly, I worked with Dr. Frank and he prescribed a drug called, Perphenazine. I had never heard of this drug before. And in a few days my head cleared up. I became more grounded and I the other patients seemed more unstable than usual with these new eyes. I also took pen to paper and began making a plan on tackling the credit card debt. I was off-the-wall excited, but I began to feel a quiet confidence in my faculties than I ever had since I couldn't remember.

When I was released I began to repair my life. I continued to "run with it" when it came to the weight loss--it was imperative with the diabetes. I stopped drinking soda. I started watching what I took into my body more closely. And I began to chip away at the credit card debt--hundreds of dollars at a time.

4 years later: that credit card debt was paid off in 2 and a 1/2 years. I have got down to 267 lbs (nearly 130 lbs off my body). I met the cast of Star Trek TNG and director, Kevin Smith. I made a short documentary that was shown to the public. And while I haven't found a job as yet, I've been volunteering for the last several years and have made some new friends.

I've tried to be more caring and supportive, especially to my family who've had some hardships as of last year. And best of all I haven't been hospitalized since that December 4 years ago! This was a record for my adult life. I have belabored some of this on this blog, and that's because I say this all with the deepest gratitude. And I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and my friends--and you all have my deepest gratitude as well.

I wish you all the Happiest of Holiday Seasons and a very Happy New Year!

What I'm Thankful for This Holiday Season
sawigajig
What's Truly Important

I'm thankful that my Dad has survived and recuperated from his surgery from earlier this year. I'm thankful that my parents have a good nest egg to retire on.

I'm thankful that I have the rest of my life to get things right.

I'm thankful that I have friends who care about me.

The Less Profound, but Cool Things I'm Thankful For

I got to meet Kevin Smith (and I have video proof!)!

I have an awesome counselor, prescriber, and hypnotherapist.

I broke through my weight loss plateau and am back in the 260 range of weight.

I'm going to Las Vegas next year!

I'm grateful that I got to go to a trip with my Dad to Wichita, KS and visit his side of the family!

I'm thankful for having an amazingly wonderful volunteer job at The Limelight theater.

I've read more books than I've ever read--and an getting smarter.

I'm thankful that my friend Keith gave me back my "Repo Man" DVD tin AUTOGRAPHED by the director!

And I'm thankful to all of you!

Special Visit to Wichita, KS
sawigajig
I was very fortunate to go with my Dad to Wichita, KS (where I was born) to take him to his 45th class reunion. There I got to see my Aunt Susan and her family. It's been a long time and it's very rare I get to see them (usually half a decade at a time). It's sort of surreal to come to the same place every 5 years or so, and see time pass. My cousins' kids are entering high school for God's sake.



We also got to take a lot of pictures, including my Dad's old neighborhood and the church where he and my Mom got married and where I was blessed. (In a strange twist of fate, it became a Christian-Buddhist meditation hall).

My Dad and I visited the various restaurants (all filled with high calorie Midwester food) and I got to drive a teeny tiny Chevy Spark as we gallavanted all across Wichita. I miss this place and and as I said before, I feel blessed for getting to go.

Update
sawigajig
This has been a trying time for me these last 6 months. I've had a very good support team who've helped me through it. Meds have had to be increased. Lots and lots of talk therapy. In terms of a job: not one yet, but I've accrued 3 letters of recommendation. I've been volunteering at a senior living center for the last several months and have put in an application and resume for hiring as an employee.

I went to the Emerald City Comicon and saw my friends, Kristen and Neal. And I got to meet some cool celebrities including, Anthony Daniels (C-3P0):



I also had a stunningly, wonderful birthday just a few weeks ago with plunderpuss and theatre_slave. It was one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time. Socializing!

A Bright Spot to a Trying Month
sawigajig
At the end of last month, my dad was dianosed with a meningioma--a brain tumor. It was encapsulated and turned out to be benign in the end. This whole situation has been hard on my family--especially my dad and mom. I stayed with my mom in Seattle for the first two weeks for my dad's stay at Harborview Medical Center. A big portion of February was ferrying ourselves from Harborview to The Inn at the Virginia Mason (where we were staying).

I returned to Bellingham 2 weeks ago and it's taken some doing to "decompress" from the stress of it all. My mood's been all over the place. My dad returned home to Mount Vernon a few days ago where he's reassimilating to his life (with his head partially shaven).

But, you may be wondering, what's the bright spot?

Well, last Saturday I was able to go to an "Evening with Kevin Smith" Q&A shows in Seattle. This is where a you could stand in line in hopes to interact with "Silent Bob" himself and ask a question (which could ask lead to a half hour plus answer).

When it came time to get to the microphone, my heart was racing. "What do I say to him?" And then it came to me. I asked if he could do a brief "get well" video for my dad with my iPod Nano. He graciously agreed. So, here it is:





As said by Captain Sisko's father, "Even in the darkest times, you can always find something that will make you smile..."

(Addendum to this post, 6.20.2015: in my insensitivity, I should have said that the bright spot was that my Dad was okay. I get so caught up in the "cotton candy" of this world, that I ignore the more important things. He's had to retire and will get to live a rich full life with my Mom. What could be better than that?)

2014: Successfully Weathered
sawigajig
This has been a challenging year. Challenges, can often become the, forge where we form (or re-form) our character. I'm proud that I was able to weather it as I have. It's been tough. And there's been pain as life brings us from time to time. So much that we encounter is out of our control, but that's where the Serenity Prayer comes in:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The most important thing of note from this struggle, is that this is the third year in a row without a psychiatric hospitalization (a record for my time in the 21st century). It took serenity, strength, and wisdom. For this I'm very grateful.

Bless you all. Please have a Happy 2015!

Also: I won a "Steadman Award" (a giftbag full of goodies) from The Pickford!

DSC00447

My Full Documentary is Done!
sawigajig
Well, it's taken nearly a year to complete, but here is my full documentary, "Still Playing: Standing Strong in the Digital Age". I'm very proud of it and I hope that those who watch it come away entertained and informed.

UPDATE: I was able to see this on the big screen with the other students of The Documentary Center in front of a packed house of mine and their friends and family (and even my counselor). I'm very proud of it and I was thankful to everyone who took the time out to go to the theater to see it.


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