#606 – The Embarrassing Epiphany

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First off, hi there, I’m Steven, and this is my blog. I haven’t written in it for most of 2018. I’ve been busy with school and life, and honestly, my therapeutic need for writing on a regular basis is mostly in remission. When I started this blog I was pretty much house-bound because of anxiety. Today, I am a successful college student carrying a 3.893 GPA and a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. I’m back to doing all the things I was terrified to do a few years ago and I’ve been like this pretty steadily for over a year with only low-grade, brief dips into anxiety and depression in between.

The name of this site, MWMISOSELF.com, is an acronym, meaning “Married White Male In Search of Self-Esteem, Living Fearlessly.” While this originally applied to my mental health, there are other situations in which my self-esteem is suffering, and so I’m returning to my blog to work on those.

A little bit of background about me. I’m 49 years old. If I stand up straight, I’m five foot eight, and as of this morning, I weigh 296 pounds. That clocks me in with a BMI of an even 45, 20 points higher than the threshold of being overweight. (For the record, I put little stock in the BMI, I’m just using it here to illustrate just how morbidly obese I am.) My extra weight is causing me a wide variety of health issues, primarily type 2 diabetes and dangerously high blood pressure. Both are under control, but between these two conditions, I’m taking 15 pills a day with a weekly injection to do so.

I carry my extra weight primarily in my belly, although I’m a little bigger everywhere because of it. That means that my waist measurement is markedly longer than my hip measurement, and because of my body shape my pants are constantly slipping off my waist and down to my hips. As a result, I’m very frequently hitching my pants back up around my waist.

I promised you an embarrassing epiphany, and finally, here it comes.

Yesterday I spent the day traveling from Chicago, where my mother-in-law lives, to Austin, where my wife and I live. Both of us have the flu, my wife much worse than me. (PSA: She’s in awful shape, I barely have any symptoms. I had my flu shot, she did not. Coincidence? I think not. Get your flu shot.) As a result of the fatigue she was experiencing, and also because of a herniated disc in her back, we reserved a wheelchair to get her to the gate more easily. We traveled with her purse and my backpack, as well as two carry-on-sized rolling bags. She carried her purse and the backpack in her lap as she was being wheeled, and I had the two rolling bags trailing behind me.

The guy that was pushing the wheelchair set quite a pace for us, and at one point during the journey, I felt that tell-tale slip of my waistline migrating to my hips. But I had a rolling bag in each hand and couldn’t just hike them back up as I went. So I walked for several more yards, feeling them continuing to slip lower and lower on my hips.

Finally, my pants slipped off my left hip and there was no longer anything keeping gravity from doing its thing, and my waistline fell to my knees before I could catch it. My pants were pretty much the only thing keeping me from an indecent exposure charge and they were in full mutiny. Fortunately, I was wearing my jacket and it was long enough to avoid doing anything obviously criminal, but it was a very close thing. I was mortified, and the only thing that kept me from having a panic attack is knowing that no one that I knew was watching and therefore no one would have any way of knowing it happened. (Except, of course, for this blog post of admission, but I have my reasons for ratting myself out.)

I called out to the guy to stop while I pulled my pants up as quickly as I could, and once I was again properly dressed we continued on to the gate, a trip that involved walking underground from one terminal to another and then to the far end of that.

We got to the gate only to discover that our plane wasn’t even there yet, so we sat for some time before we could board. I was very warm from all the exertion, so once we got settled I took my jacket off and then noticed that the collar was pretty damp with sweat.

It took me a full fifteen minutes to catch my breath from the brisk walk that we took, but in that fifteen minutes, I had time to think about what had happened to me on the way. The waistline incident was just one more reason that I had to lose weight. I’d been tossing the idea around for some time, but nothing more serious than making an appointment for three classes with a nutritionist in January. I know I need to lose weight because of my health, but having my pants actually fall off in public was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It suddenly became a high priority.

At the same time, I was realizing that the trip through O’Hare was the most actual exercise I’d gotten in months, possibly years. I’ve walked plenty, but it’s all been leisurely strolls rather than purposeful workouts. I was scared of how my body would react to doing something that rigorous for that long, but now I knew. I was dripping with sweat, I was heaving trying to catch my breath, and I was doing it all in a very public setting, so there was no ability of me to hide that struggle away – but I survived it. And as I was resting, I realized that I felt more alive at the end of the journey than I did before we set off through the airport. There was an immediate benefit from exercising, one I hadn’t foreseen, and I liked how it made me feel.

So now that I’m home and the holidays are behind us, I’m finally ready to commit to losing weight and all that comes with it – the dietary restrictions, the cardio, all of it. And the timing is such that it can commence with the new year. That’s not to say I’m making losing weight a New Year’s resolution – I don’t believe in resolutions because they’re set up to crumble at the first sign of difficulty – but I will make a goal to lose ten pounds as soon as possible. And when I hit that, then I’ll make a goal to lose fifteen more, and then twenty. At the end of those three short-term goals, I’ll have lost 45 pounds and will be at my first target weight of 250. And then I’ll keep working on goal after goal until the excess weight is gone. My future depends on it. And so does my state of dress, apparently.

#602 – Goodbye 2017!

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This will be my last post this year. I am packing for a flight to Orlando to spend some time with my wife’s family for a few days. We leave very, very early in the morning so tonight’s post is going to be short, but important.

One of my first posts of 2017 was on January 21, where I talked a bit about what everyday life was like for me. I was barely being social, I was pretty much a shut-in, I was only driving if it was absolutely necessary, and I was very prone to anxiety attacks at the drop of a hat. I was still pretty early in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, Sixth Edition, and my meds were keeping my mood low but stable.

Fast forward to today. I’ve completed the Workbook and had my meds tweaked to a super effective combination, and together they’ve allowed me to make progress that I could never have foreseen in January. I’ve recently completed my first semester in college, with both classes being taught in the classroom and not online. I started driving pretty much anywhere and going to stores on my own. My confidence started to come back, although it still has a ways to go. I have far more good days than bad. My mood is usually fairly medium but it’s easy for it to spike and rare for it to plummet even for a brief time.

This has been nothing short of a transformative year for me, and I’m hoping that 2018 is going to be more of the same. I’ve got a hell of a workload in the spring semester that starts next month, and just at the beginning of it I’m moving, but if I can get through that with mostly A’s and the occasional B, then I’ll consider myself very prepared for anything else that college – and life – can throw my way.

I want to thank you for following me through this banner year. Your words of encouragement and wisdom mean the world to me, and I appreciate every one of you for taking time out of your day to read my (sometimes nonsensical) musings about my life.

See you folks next year. Enjoy the turn of the calendar and all the promise and hope it brings.

#601 – What a Lovely Day

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Today was a fantastic day. I got to spend the afternoon with one of my favorite people, and when I picked my wife up from work found out that she had an even better day after a conversation with her supervisor.

The evening’s been spent lying in bed and goofing off on the computer. I’ll enjoy this little bit of respite. We’re going to be packing tomorrow night for a flight to Orlando Saturday morning to spend time with my wife’s family for New Year’s. Once we get back, the packing and preparation for our move is going to start in earnest, and it won’t be many days before I’ll be back in school.

Gotta enjoy the downtime while I can. There’s not a lot of it on the horizon.

Back At Home

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My wife and I are back in Austin following an emotionally draining trip to Phoenix to say goodbye to her father, who passed away a week ago. I’ve detailed each day’s events in this blog, so regular readers will know what we’ve been through and how it’s affected us with our particular mental illnesses.

The flight was cramped and very warm. The window shades were down and each air vent was opened all the way before we boarded to try and cool down the cabin as much as possible. For the most part, passengers kept their window shades down and their air vents open throughout the flight, although there were a few people that wanted to see the sun. It was fairly dark in the cabin, so much so that some passengers had to turn on their lights to be able to read. Excepting for my wife and I almost literally sitting on top of one another, and the oppressive heat, the flight was actually pretty nice, with only a little turbulence.

As we landed, I realized just how much I rely on the window being available. I tend to look outside as we descend to be able to gauge when to prepare for touchdown, but today there were so many people around me that kept their shades down I didn’t have a frame of reference for how close to the ground we were, and when the wheels touched down I was a bit shocked by it.

It’s good to be back home surrounded by familiarity and comfort. Both cats are inside and are currently snuggling with my wife as she takes a bit of a snooze. I’ve got my laptop back in its usual place and sitting in my usual seat instead of making do with the hotel desk situation. I’m about to go make a cup of coffee. Life is good.

And it’s relatively back to normal, or as normal as things get for us.

Rest in Peace

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Today was the funeral service for my father-in-law. We expected there to be some family drama but there was hardly any, and the service was very nice. We survived intact.

My wife did tear up during the service, as both she and I expected, but it was brief. I expect that at some point it’ll finally dawn on her and she’s have a good cry over it. I may be wrong. They weren’t very close except during the last year of his life, and even then it was a temporary thing.

We did get an opportunity to visit with some SCA friends of ours that have moved out to Phoenix. It was great seeing them and we miss seeing them more often.

The big social event this evening was a pizza party in the lobby of the hotel for the same family members that went to Texas Roadhouse last night.

As I write this my wife is very busily trying to get us as packed as she can for the trip home tomorrow afternoon. We leave the hotel at 9:30 am to head for the airport, and neither one of us want to leave things until the last minute.

As hectic and chaotic as things got at times this weekend, I’m still glad that we got a chance to see family. While this is all my wife’s people, they’ve taken me in and accepted me as family, and coming from a very small family myself, that’s a good feeling.

Tomorrow night we’ll be in our own apartment, petting our own kitties, and relaxing on our own couch. It’ll be a welcome rest after what’s been an emotionally charged and busy week.

As for my part in it, at no point during the trip did I feel anxiety. There were some situations that felt a little awkward, but that very familiar “fight or flight” instinct that I so very often get in social situations wasn’t there. My wife has been worried about how I might suddenly and catastrophically relapse back into being too anxious to function, but I’ve tried to assure her that it’s not going to happen. If it weren’t for just feeling better and not experiencing any anxiety, I’d put that on the back burner to deal with after we got home. This trip was for her to say goodbye to her father, and my job has been to keep her as together as I can during this time. But as I said, I’m fine. Tired, a little homesick, but fine.

Phoenix is a lovely city. The views are gorgeous and I got to see one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen while I was here. But it’s oppressively hot during the summer, and neither me nor my wife do well in extreme heat, so this wouldn’t be a viable place for us to look to relocate if we ever decided to leave Austin. Austin has its own problems with heat, and we willingly left a climate that has four distinct seasons in order to live there among our friends again, and I don’t see us leaving Austin for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t mind coming back to see Phoenix during the winter. My wife’s brother and his family live here, and it will always be a good thing to see our niece and nephew. But I think we’re going to avoid it during the summertime.

It’s been a good trip, but I’ll be glad to be back home.

Calm Before the Storm

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My wife and I are in Phoenix preparing for the funeral of her father. The service is tomorrow morning, and today we’ve been taking it easy, trying to avoid the 107-degree heat outside. We had breakfast with my wife’s mother, and in the afternoon my wife’s brother and his family came over to enjoy the pool and to visit for a while. We got to see our niece and nephew for a little bit before it was time to head down to the pool, and when they split off to the pool, we headed into our room to order lunch and to relax until dinner this evening. We’ve got ten adults and three kids that are gathering for an evening at Texas Roadhouse (at least that’s the plan, they don’t take reservations and a thirteen-top needs some advanced notice) and after that likely back to the hotel room for the evening.

We’ve got a little bit of time before dinner, so we’re thinking it’s going to be a good opportunity to catch a nap. Both of us are tired and we’re still preparing for the service tomorrow, where we suspect there might be some family drama that’s been building for some time. Hopefully not, but we’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it.

The squishy hotel bed calls me.

Long Day

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I had a meeting today with Texas Workforce Commission regarding my action plan. We’re looking to potentially upgrade it to another educational program, but I’m getting mixed messages about things again, so I insisted that I get two weeks to do my due diligence this time and not get rushed into yet another spur of the moment decision. Rather than bore you with the details, I’ll fill you in once I’m on the other side of my meeting on the 27th and I know for sure what’s happening. Things could be changing for the better, things could be changing for the worse, I really don’t know. I hate not knowing what’s going on and not having much time to react to new information.

The flight was good. Both my wife and I are large, so we don’t sit in a coach seat very well, and things were exceptionally cramped for us. We had seats on the exit row to give us more legroom, but we traded having a tray in front of us for one that would unfold over our legs, and neither of us can really use those trays because of our size. Fortunately when they closed the hatch and began taxiing away from the gate, the two seats on the other side of the aisle were unoccupied, so at the flight attendant’s urging, I took one aisle seat and my wife took the other, and we could use the tray for the empty seat for drinks and snacks. The flight was pretty uneventful and it went quickly, although we did have a touch of turbulence during our descent for landing in Phoenix. My wife doesn’t like flying very much and we held hands across the aisle for the takeoff and landing. It’s become our tradition whenever we fly, and I like that my touch is comforting to her.

My body thinks it’s going on one in the morning, so without much else to say, I’m signing off for the evening. Tomorrow we’re going to be visiting with family and Thursday is the service, and I expect that to be fairly emotionally charged for multiple reasons. Here’s hoping we get out of Phoenix relatively intact.