I’ve been trying to find where to start with my first post. I’ve had so many things going through my mind over the course of the past few weeks, so many things tugging at my heart strings, that trying to find what I want to say first is a challenge in its own right. I guess I’ll just let this first post flow, because God I need to get some things out.
I’ve been emotional the past few days. Yep, I’ve cried, repeatedly, many times. Even some of the most simple things have pushed me over the edge. The world wants men to be strong. To hold a certain demeanor and persona that in my opinion isn’t entirely real. But I haven’t been measuring up to the world’s standards.
You may be wondering why I’ve been crying. That’s a great question to be honest. Maybe it’s because I’m on a million meds. There’s a shit ton of side effects to each of these meds I’m on. But why am I on meds? That’s a great question too. Maybe it’s because my stress levels have been through the fucking roof. There! I said it. I’m not perfect, and I’ve been managing everything the best way I know how.
Well why are my stress levels so high? We may as well keep going down the rabbit hole right? In many ways, it scares me to publicly talk about things in my personal life. I value privacy on a level that I don’t even think people understand. I don’t like a ton of people in my business, but I do also firmly believe in radical transparency. And as such, I feel as if, if I can be honest with the world, and share my story, articulating it in a clear and concise manner, without reliving each scenario, or speaking in a way to bash or bad mouth anyone, that my transparency can help others to be honest and real too. So here it goes…
Last year was one of the best years of my life. It goes on record as being the ONLY year that I have never gone to the ER, urgent care, or any doctor for any sort of medical emergency. I should note that I did spend much of the year in trauma therapy as well as taking group DBT classes to help manage PTSD. But that’s a good thing. I was working on myself and my own healing. I also went to several personal development workshops and skill based workshops to perfect skills in my life and work on my own self. Last year I traveled out of the country several times. I went to the Canadian Rockies, explored Banff, Jasper, Crystal Lake, and so much more. I went to Mexico, almost got murdered in Ciudad Juarez, which I must say, that story deserves it’s own future blog post. I was living in Arizona with two roommates, having a blast, exploring new places I’d never been to all around the country, while also making so many new friends, taking several acting classes during my free time, coaching wrestling at a local high school, and drawing at events. I’d saved up a TON of money in a very short amount of time, got out of debt, was looking into some investments, bought two bunnies, packed on nearly 20lbs of muscle, which is a big gain from the losses I took years prior due to multiple surgeries, improved so many relationships with friends and family, and everything was looking up… Or so it seemed.
To get into the details on how everything has played out the way it has, that alone could be written into a book. There are so many layers and it’s so intertwined, that to be honest, for a first blog post, it would only really make sense to brush over the bullet points. I guess I’ll start with the living situation. I moved from Florida to Arizona in late January of 2018, moving in with an ex gf to try and make things work. Long distance is exceptionally hard. I was willing to risk everything to try and make things work with someone that I believe had the potential of being my future wife. I won’t go into details on the relationship or what happened, but things didn’t work out the way we’d hoped, in fact, they ended painfully bad for the both of us. I love that woman as a person, but not everything is meant to be.
I decided to leave Arizona on April 11, 2018 and fly home to Virginia. I moved back in with my parents. I was now in major debt. I had no job. I was in emotional turmoil. And at the time, I felt like I was going to go crazy. It’s kind of funny looking back on it all. A friend of mine spoke to me about working with him for a tree service company in Williamsburg. Desperately seeking employment, I agreed. I worked about 12 hours a day everyday, and I have to say, I gained a great appreciation for those in the tree service business. I never realized how tough the job really was until I took it up myself. Sometime around mid-June I quit. I packed my bags, and booked a flight back to Arizona. I’d already made up my mind that I was going back. There was so much unresolved turmoil inside of me that I had to get some resolution for peace of mind. I’ve always been like that. I never like leaving things unsaid… I must clear my conscience. It helps me to stay true to myself and find healing.
Leaving Virginia was a gut wrench-er. My mom and I had a moment of fighting and tears in which her words to me and her response to me leaving were the same words and the exact same response as my ex girlfriend. In fact, it was so eerily identical, that I had a conversation with a couple of close friends about it. I ended up moving into a house with this guy that I barely knew. I had a room to myself, had full access to everything, it was a nice set up. Upon initially arriving back in Arizona, much of the first few months revolved around gaining peace of mind. I tried making up with my ex girlfriend. I did everything to talk things out. I tried talking things out with our couples counselor. I even went to great lengths to try and find some resolution through mutual acquaintances, which I must say, looking back seems a bit desperate.
Simultaneously while trying to work things out with her, as I began to quickly realize that the future for us was beginning to look more and more dim, and the idea of even staying in contact as friends was looking more and more dim, I felt in my gut that I had to get my story out (much like what’s happened this time)… I felt like during our couple’s counseling sessions that I’d been completely silenced and it was one sided, as well as felt as if I was subjected to a lot of abuse from the both of them during those sessions. So I decided to take the counselor to trial. While this was taking place, I’d also suffered a sexual assault in Virginia in the month of December, just before moving out to Arizona the first time, and I was taking that to trial as well. I went to trauma therapy, won both cases, and the rest is history. In trauma therapy, my counselor and I talked about everything. Much of it was discussing my feelings, working through the trauma (which there’s soooo much), and working through mindfulness activities. I was released by the therapist under the pretense that I no longer needed therapy. In fact, in her words, out of all of her clients, I seemed to be the most stable and well reasoned of them all, and was not in need of therapy. I was mad the day I got released… I tried arguing it! And they responded with, “Well you’ll be starting DBT classes soon, so you’re fine.”
I have to backtrack a bit… While in Arizona, in my quest to bring order to all of the chaos in my life, I was dealing with sleep issues. I would go days without sleep, and wake up gasping for breath, feeling super uneasy, and shaking… This had been going on for months, long before I flew from AZ back to VA back to AZ. In my trauma therapy sessions, at the beginning of my initial consultation, I’d mentioned that I thought I may have an anxiety issue or maybe even sleep apnea. They had me take a psych test and found that I didn’t test for anxiety, but I did test for PTSD with dissociation. And I should make clear that while the shaking did eventually begin to subside, I still had sleep issues the entire duration of my time from then until now waking up feeling uneasy. All of this back history is critical in understanding where I am now.
Now let’s fast forward to semi present day. Everything began to take a huge turn around November of last year. Technically, I started having issues with my roommate long before that. But we would try and work through things, since we were close friends, and let stuff go. Sometime mid to late last year, this guy came out as gay. In fact, it was the first time he publicly came out to the entire world. He admitted to having a crush on me. And living together became very awkward. I’m straight, I love women. I don’t care if he’s gay. But he became obsessed, and began stalking me, stalking my friends, everything. It got out of control. I don’t want to bash the guy. He does so much good. And I can tell that he really tries his best to make other people happy. On the other hand, I feel as if he doesn’t take care of his own happiness, and he hasn’t done it for so long, that his toxic behaviors can affect the lives of those around him. I had a laptop that apparently got broken in his house, while in my room, while I was out of town, and somehow nobody knows who broke it. And there are a few other things I could mention, but again I don’t want to publicly talk about every issue that’s come up between he and I. Some things I’ll just keep to myself. Let’s just call this stress one.
While this was taking place, stress two came up. Since life had been going spectacularly well, and I had about $30k saved up, I decided to buy a Nintendo Switch and stock up on games so that way I could entertain myself with things I wanted to do as a means of saving money long term and not constantly blowing my money on trips out of the country or out of state. I figured, if I could make an investment in myself that can keep me entertained locally, I can focus my efforts more on taking my excess money and investing it into assets to make more money, so in the future, I can go wherever I want and do whatever I want. I should note that I spent about $4k on games and gadgets for the Switch, which in many ways is still blowing money. But I had money to blow, so at the time, I didn’t care much. I figured, I can easily make that in a couple of weeks. That’s when I decided that I’d refinance my car.
Speaking of refinancing my car, I’d JUST lowered my insurance from about $1000 a month (long, frustrating story that I don’t want to get into right now) down to $265ish a month. And I’d just gotten a Sonata the previous November, meaning I’d only had the car a year. It still had super low mileage. I kept it in pristine condition. But I wanted to cut down on my monthly expenses. I go in to Desert Financial Credit Union to refinance and CLEARLY STATE that I want to carry over my gap insurance on my car. I even had my roommate with me looking at all the paperwork too since he’s a former project manager at an engineering firm and has to look at paperwork all day anyway. They refinance it, I was paying less, but my gap insurance didn’t get transferred over. TWO DAYS LATER, while driving to a gig that I was going to be making some decent money at, I totaled my car, got hit in the rear by an oncoming car while making a left turn at a green light. I could argue that the car was speeding, since I promise you it was. But it doesn’t matter. I’m at fault. This changed everything.
I ended up late to the gig. Both my car and the car that hit me were totaled. I ended up paying off the balance of my Sonata (since the gap insurance never got transferred over), plus other car/insurance expenses in there, and ended up buying a Hyundai Tuscon (put down a decent deposit), with slightly higher insurance, plus higher car payments, and a chunk of my savings gone like ships in the night. In many ways, it’s sad to think about. But shit happens. We make mistakes. I have to accept responsibility for those tiny errors. On the bright side, I personally love my Tuscon more than the Sonata, simply because I prefer the extra space. I also forgot to mentioned that I’d JUST paid $1k+ for four new tires on my Sonata plus maintenance maybe a few days before totaling it.
This brings me to stress number three. I had a root canal that I needed to get. I was looking into getting it in 2020. But then the tooth cracked, and the pain began to become unbearable. This meant that during the exact same time frame that all of this other stuff was taking place, I now needed to get an emergency tooth issue fixed. I ended up getting two teeth worked on, paid out another $4k, and took another massive blow. On the bright side, I don’t have to worry about that again. And I should note, the dentists said that the reason I needed the root canals is because my wisdom teeth were pushing up against the back teeth and how they grow, it was bound to eventually lead to me needing a root canal. The recommendation that was given was getting the wisdom teeth removed, but the concern of the dentist is that since mine lay on the nerve, it could cause issues. I just figured I’d throw that tid bit out since it has nothing to do with me not taking care of my teeth. I brush regularly.
Since I got the main issues out the way, I’ll give a cliff notes of everything else. I was anticipating a stock market crash, or at least another BIG correction. It was easy to see a mile away. As such, I wanted to have money for investment. But since a large portion of my savings was gone, I wanted to offset my expenses and try and recover some of the money. Because my plan was to buy a Shopify store, acquiring an asset. I’d already paid for credit repair, which I must say, my credit is in great standing at the moment. I’d been paying out the ass for multiple acting classes (so I froze my payments on classes in January). I also must add that those classes have helped me in so many areas of my life. I don’t regret the development through the instruction. I knew that if I was to travel and make money drawing, I would need a rabbit sitter for an extended period. But rabbit sitters cost more than cat and dog sitters, since they’re exotic pets. I didn’t want to pay $500-1000/month for pet sitting services. I was looking into apartments, but didn’t want a roommate. So I didn’t want to pay $1200-1600/month in rent if I was trying to offset expenses to make passive income. I’d booked a flight to Florida, changed my mind, got a PO Box, put some stuff in storage, packed my bags, packed up my bunnies, and decided to drive to Virginia.
Upon arrival, I met up with a few close friends, was in chipper spirits, had just spent several thousand dollars driving cross country and trying to keep my bunnies alive while doing so, and booked a second flight to Florida out of Virginia. My plan was to make my home base in Florida for most of the year, and either move to Los Angeles, or possibly elsewhere depending on where life would take me. Upon arriving in Florida, I end up breaking even at my first show (drawing at a fair), make decent money at the second one, and as we began to hit the busier season, by fair three, everything had shut down. Thanks COV-ID19!! I got sucker punched out of left field. How could I have seen it coming? Who could’ve predicted such a turn of events?!
I ended up staying in Sarasota for a few days, caught a ride to Orlando, hung with some friends there for a couple of days, then flew home to Virginia. I immediately started looking into ways to make money, while simultaneously focusing my efforts on business plans long term. I met up with a lawyer in DC to discuss some things dealing with opening a gallery, and took this opportunity to meet up with a gorgeous lady friend of mine. And that’s when the health issues came rolling in.
To be honest, I think it all just snowballed. The stress was building and building. I was carrying so much pressure on my shoulders and holding myself together for so long trying to be strong. Then her and I met up, and upon us parting ways, I felt as if there was some misunderstanding, and that’s when my body just gave out. I couldn’t take anymore… The next day I began throwing up, shaking for days on end, coughing up blood, not able to sleep, gaining new white hairs in my beard, head foggy, and so much more. I want to be clear. She did nothing wrong. She’s so sweet, kind, and to be honest, I see so much potential in her that I don’t even know if she sees fully herself. I personally feel as if there were things left unsaid, and it bothered me. My personality doesn’t like leaving things unsaid, EVER. And I honestly believe it was the turning point for stress levels. My body legit hit a point where it couldn’t take anymore stress.
Upon getting sick, I began to become more moody. I got into two separate fights with both of my parents, moved out, moved multiple times in fact, got two jobs, while the shut down is taking place. And I’m doing all of this while going to urgent care, having several virtual doctor appointments, going to the ER, and a primary care physician. It took awhile, but the doctors finally got a handle on things, after my first visit wasn’t even taken seriously. The verdict? Initially the suspicion was that I had an anxiety disorder. Then it was all my recurring ulcer/GERD/gastritis, which is the root cause of the anxiety. And now the belief is that it’s a combination of my PTSD (history of trauma) and post concussion syndrome (my long history of concussions through the years) that’ve created a lethal combination leading to my ulcer. So primarily, it’s stress. Unfortunately, there’s no known cure for post concussion syndrome. To be honest, that could explain my decline in performance through the years. The PTSD, well I can’t control that. It sounds so simple for an outsider to give advice. I’ve been to therapy, but I’ve been released from multiple therapists. I just have to learn to manage things and keep being mindful. It’s hard. My body shakes even when there are no triggers. I can legit be having a great time, be in happy spirits and start shaking. On the other hand, I had a panic attack a few days ago and burst into tears when I realized I may have said some things that were hurtful to a friend. I’m sure the meds I’m on play a HUGE role in all of this. But that’s really where I’m at right now.
I’m not perfect. I don’t go around seeking attention and validation from everyone. I just want to be accepted for who I am. I make mistakes. Sometimes I fuck up badly. But I always try to make things right. I’m accepting responsibility for all money lost. I’m accepting responsibility for the fact that I’m currently in the position I’m in now. As such, I will continue to monitor symptoms, follow the doctor’s advice and improve my health. Maybe I’ll never be able to live a normal life again. I could shake at random for the rest of my life. I’m trying my best. I won’t give up though, and I refuse to let this get me down. I may cry, I may scream, I may be emotional. But that doesn’t mean I’m not making progress. When I was growing up in sports, there were many athletes that would cry all the time, but performed 10x better than many of those that fought through things in silence. I don’t buy into the hype that everyone must weather their storms the same way or do the same thing or even be the same person. Nobody knows how my body feels. Nobody understands how it feels having an electrical current tingling through their body 24/7, or so it feels. I get uncomfortable in large crowds, but I LOVE people. I’m working two jobs because I don’t want to rely on anyone. I’m still in the process of buying this Shopify store even after taking losses. I’m still in the green financially. My credit is still great. I have no debt. I just bought new tires and got maintenance on my Hyundai Tuscon. None of my goals have stopped. But me as a person, I see a bright future whether other’s see it in me or not. If I died tomorrow, I’d feel content knowing that at least I was able to get this post out for the world to read. I’m a lifelong trauma survivor. I’m healing. My body is just catching up. It sucks. It fucking sucks. Please be gentle with me. And I will try my best to be gentle with all of you!
So here’s to blog post number one… honest and transparent!