An open letter to people who brag about never having watched Game of Thrones

Dear Person Who Feels Compelled to Brag About Never Watching an Episode of GoT Like it Makes You Better Than Us.

We don’t really care what you think.

Sincerely,
GoT Fans Everywhere.

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On being a high-functioning introvert

Some people are surprised to learn that I am an introvert and suffer from bouts of social anxiety and agoraphobia.

Unless things are really bad, I have no problems with most social interactions. I can be friendly, engaged and even talkative.
I might be aching to wander away and retreat into my shell but most people would never know that.

When things are bad, I can’t leave the house.
Not “don’t want to”, but “CAN’T”
Here’s an example.

A few years ago I had a heart attack, a fairly serious one. The pain woke me up in the middle of the night along with severe nausea.
I waited 3 HOURS to call 911.
I told people that it was because I thought it was just heart-burn.
I was a military medic for almost 20 years…I KNEW it was an heart attack!

The problem was that I was going through a particularly rough period of my life and just couldn’t deal with people at the moment.
From my medical experience I knew that not only would the responding paramedics poke and prod, but they’d be asking me questions, and talking to me and reassuring me and generally invading my personal space.
Because all that is essential when treating any medical condition.

So yeah, I didn’t call 911 for a heart attack because I couldn’t deal with social interactions!

And yes, I was fully aware that I could die because of that.

That’s how bad my social anxiety was that day. I would rather die than have to talk to another human being.

I finally called because the pain was immense enough to eventually override everything else.

I relay that particular story so you don’t mistake the affects of my anxiety as a lack of willpower or some other character flaw.

At this point some of you are likely saying, “But you have a good job that requires you leave the house (to go to work), and that you interact with people!”

One of the important things to keep in mind is that like many chronic conditions, anxiety sufferers have good days and bad.

If I must leave the house and interact with people on a bad day I have coping mechanisms that help me get through.
Work is usually a refuge for me. Its rare that things are so bad that falling into my work doesn’t mitigate the anxiety.
When it does I have people I to whom I can say, “I’m having a bad day today”, and they’ll know what I’m talking about.
With people outside that circle who notice that I’m off, I use the “not feeling great”, and if they push I’ll chalk it up to something that I ate.

Work is an imperative though. I have responsibilities to my co-workers and customers.

Social engagements are another issue entirely. I often feel some combination of anxiety, trepidation and/or dread whenever a social engagement is approaching. Even ones that I know I will enjoy.
As the time approaches my brain will race around looking for excuses to not go.
Its sort of like this:

ME: Oh no, I think I’m coming down with the stomach flu!!
ALSO ME: Relax, you just farted. You’re fine.
ME: I’ve got a really really bad headache coming on!
ALSO ME: No…you don’t. You really don’t.
ME: But there will be people there!!!
ALSO ME: JUST GET IN THE GODDAMN CAR ALREADY!!!!

You get the idea.

That being said, social engagements of any type are out of the question on bad days.
There is no particular thing that I’m afraid of on these days, its just the idea of simply interacting with another human being seems to be impossible.

Case in point a few days ago I was having a bad day. Unfortunately I absolutely had to go to the grocery store.
It took me a good hour to work up the nerve to go.
When I got there I was distressed to see that there were people canvassing for a charity at the front doors.
I put on my best “Don’t talk to me” posture and strode quickly past, grabbed a shopping cart and WHAM..came face to face with a sweet old lady asking me to support something or other (I don’t know what it was).
I stammered out a no thank you and practically ran into the store.

I picked up a few things, but was so frazzled by the unexpected social contact that I ended up forgetting to pick up what I went to the store for. (and there was no way in hell I was going back for them!)

So the title of this is being a high-functioning introvert, but having read it over…who am I kidding? I’m a mess.

When is it time to say good-bye?

I think one of the hardest things about owning a pet is having to decide when its time to say good-bye.

In my last post I mentioned that Kharma, my 11yo Great Dane is dying of old age.

She had some health issues that her vet assured me were minor, but I couldn’t help but notice how much she slowed down.

Through February she just seemed so tired.
Where she used to be first up the stairs when I announced that it was bedtime she would plod, if she even moved off the couch at all.
She started to show little interest in food, except for treats. Even for those she wouldn’t leave the couch. I had to bring them to her.
She wouldn’t greet even her favourite people at the door, nor would she go running at a knock barking her fool head off.

But she didn’t appear to be in any pain. So I coddled her and cared for her as best I could.

On the night I wrote the blog entry I mentioned above Kharma was lying on the comforter behind my chair. I pondered her for a long while. So long that my housemate wandered by and asked what was wrong.

“I think she’s got a week or two at the most.” I responded sadly.

We talked about the signs we’d both been seeing. He kindly offered to take her on her last trip to the vet when it was time.
“No, I’ll be with her when its her time”.

Tonight, just over a week later and its a very different dog lying on the comforter beside me (one of the dogs moved it I think).

She’s still slower than she was, and I’ve noticed it takes effort for her to climb on furniture, but she’s eating her own food, greeting people at the door, and even barking at random things when she’s in the backyard.

With these improvements there are bad days, even bad moments. Last night she looked so tired and worn out again. I had to run out to the grocery store for some things, including dog food. When I returned she was waiting at the door and bounced around with the other dogs.

I’m taking this one day at a time, but I’m finding the question of how do I know when its her time very hard in this instance.

With my other dogs it was obvious. They were obviously suffering. While these were terrible moments, the decision was easy because it was the right one.

I worry that when Kharma’s time comes that I will miss it. That I will take some other sign as a sign that she’s not ready.

I love her dearly. While all my dogs have been, or are awesome in their own way from the moment I met her I knew she was special. She’s affectionate in ways that I’ve never experienced with other dogs (or most humans for that matter).

It would break me if I realize one day that I’ve let her suffer for my own selfish reasons.

I thought writing this would help me solidify my thoughts…but it hasn’t.

I am, in this moment, very sad.

3 Days that Saved My Life

This will be hard to write and for some, undoubtedly, hard to read.

I’m going to share my story in the hopes that it might help someone.

It’s no secret that I struggle with depression. Many are aware that there are days that I wake up regretting that I didn’t die in my sleep.

Mood wise, things got better towards the end of last year.

I noticed my mood slipping, but wasn’t too concerned as it always does during the winter months.

My life went to shit. I made some mistakes in the past that caught up with me and have created a difficult financial situation.

There were other things that I have to deal with that seemed harder and harder the more depressed I got.

Then my 11yr old Great Dane, Kharma started to show her age. Great Danes rarely live past 10, so this wasn’t unexpected, but the realization that my big girl is dying hit me harder than I thought it would. (I got tearful just typing that in fact). She is currently sleeping on the comforter behind me, so she is soldiering on.

Eventually, with everything piling on my depression deepened even further.

Then, one day I realized that things were futile, hopeless, joyless, and there was absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel.

I started to isolate myself as much as I could. I stopped looking after myself. I started subsisting on instant Pho noodles because the act of taking something out of the freezer to defrost was like trying to climb a mountain. I couldn’t even contemplate the energy it would take to prepare a meal, no matter how simple.

Often I would find myself sitting on the couch with Kharma’s head on my lap prematurely mourning her loss.

It became harder and harder to leave the house, except for work.

Even though it was difficult I did my best to stay in touch because I didn’t want people to worry.

Thoughts of suicide started creeping in more and more frequently.

That voice in the back of my head that speaks up at times like this, pointing out that people love me, people need me, my dogs need me, work needs me, and that things will get better became less and less convincing, and more annoying.

There have been a couple of times in the past where I reached this point, and during those episodes I became fearful that I would harm myself.

That fear wasn’t there this time.

There was only fatigue. A bone deep exhaustion.

I didn’t see the point of carrying on.

The internal struggle of choosing between living and dying started becoming a nightly ritual.

I had almost reached the point where the voice telling me to carry on was gone.

Then, at a particularly bad and hopeless moment that side of my brain made a proposition.

“3 days”, it said. “If you’re determined to die, 3 days won’t matter one way or another.”

So a deal was struck. I would wait 3 days and if things didn’t get better I would end things.

When I struck that deal I figured I would be dead in three days.

Three days passed, and I can honestly say that at that moment I’d completely forgotten about the arrangement.

It was a few days after that when while driving home from work I found myself singing along with the radio and realized that my depression had lessened and I was actually thinking about the future.

My personal life is still a shit show, Kharma is still approaching the end of her days, but I have plans on how to deal with it all appropriately. It will be hard, but not impossible.

I can see a light at the end of the tunnel and will eventually reach it, thanks to those 3 days.

Depression

This weekend I sat with my phone opened to Facebook, my fingers poised over the keyboard to post something.

It was hard to come up with something.

I was going through a deep depression.

I wanted to tell people what I was going through. I wasn’t asking for help, or for anyone to do anything.

I just wanted people to know that I was hurting.

After many attempts I came up with:

“Today was a rather blue day”

I hit post and moved on and slogged through the weekend.

This bought snuck up on me. I didn’t realized that I was depressed until I recognized the individual signs. Not looking after myself, a near constant fatigue, random aches and pains, headaches, restlessness, apathy.

In all that, the only thing I could think to do was to let people know. Maybe a sign of progress because normally I’m not one to reach out when things get bad.

I’ll get through it.

I always do.

Red Dead Redemption 2: How to play

Talk~talk~talk~ride your horse
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride

Talk~talk~PEWPEWPEW!!!!!~talk~talk~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride
~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride~ride

Repeat…

The Best Super Power Ever!

Whenever you ask someone what they’d pick for a super power if they had the opportunity you hear answers are things like the ability to fly, super strength, the ability to heal, etc. etc.

Until recently my choice would be the ability to heal others (I was a medic for most of my adult life after all),  but that’s recently been supplanted by what I think would be the most awesome super power ever.

Imagine being able to use the video game capability of being able to save your game in real life?

Wouldn’t that be amazing?!!

Imagine, just before you drive to work, you do a quick save, then drive at double the speed limit…exhilarating, fun, dangerous and illegal as hell.  Get into an accident, or get a ticket…revert to your saved game..and in the next play through you know where the cops are!

You could tell your crush, boss, co-worker, neighbour, or anyone else exactly what you thought of them, and if it doesn’t go well, revert and you’re back safely at your last check-point with friendship, job or whatever intact!

Money wouldn’t be a problem either. Quick save, head off to the casino, or just buy a lottery ticket.  When you know how things play out, revert to the last check-point and you know what the winning numbers or hands are!

About to get married?  I’d recommend a manual save point over a quick save at this point.  You might have to revert to an older save game to undo the damage of a bad move here.

Hell, you wouldn’t have to worry about getting old either,  if you’re willing to keep re-living the past couple of decades.