My Childhood, My Parents, and I

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My parents used to be great. They still are, but they used to too (Mitch Hedberg was a genius). They gave me what I needed and more. And they didn’t give me what I thought I needed but didn’t know that I didn’t (reread it so you understand). They never went overboard and spoiled the shit out of me. They offered me an amazing childhood. So amazing that I actually would love to go back and stay there. Did they punish me? Hell yes. Did I deserve it? I’m going to say most probably yes too. At the age I am right now, if I had a kid like me, I would definitely put him up for adoption. Or give him to mom to raise him and take him back when he reaches the age of 42 and he no longer snickers when I show him an image of boobs.

I’ve never had any traumatic experiences during my childhood, unless you consider what happened to Mufasa and Bambi’s mom. Oh and that one episode of Tom and Jerry about heaven and hell. Dear lord it scared the shit out of me, and I remember I was constipated that day.

But I do remember some anxious moments from my childhood. One of the things I remember is when my parents used to leave the house. At first I’d go through nothing. But once I get a thought that they are late, I start obsessing about them being in an accident, and I would stand by the window and cry. You might say that that is normal behavior for a child. Not really though! I can say it was stronger than a normal kid’s reaction, even though I’ve never knew how normal felt like. But just recently, I tapped back into that pain, and it felt eerily similar to a very intense bout of depression. The pain back then was intensely abnormal. So only when I grew up and realized what OCD and depression were and are, and how sucky they make you feel, that I realized that as a kid, I was almost feeling something similar. I wasn’t scared to be left home alone. Only when that thought of my parents dying and me spending the rest of my life alone, that that intense feeling would come over me like a car speeding through a deep puddle while you’re walking on the sidewalk.

Another thought I used to get was eating a piece of food before the other, or blowing on my hair in a certain number of times.

There was also this one Thursday afternoon. Mom and I were going to buy a toy as our school wanted us to get a toy so they can give it to kids who were less fortunate. I remember holding her hand and walking by her on the sidewalk, and all I could feel was a gloomy grey feeling. I felt like I was wrapped in a tight space that didn’t feel nice at all.
Other times I do remember I used to cry myself to sleep. Sometimes my thoughts were just nostalgic reminiscence of things that happen in my life. I was no older than 5 or 6 years old. Sometimes I would also cry and feel guilty about toys I had. Other times I used to cry myself to sleep convincing myself that I had no friends and nobody loved me.
These feelings never lingered for long periods of time. They used to just pop up like those unwanted sex sites whenever you’re browsing the internet.

These things never took control over my life, that’s why they never extremely or for long periods of time bothered me. But that all changed during the spring of 2006. No I didn’t hit puberty back then, that was last week. In 2006 I started feeling a shift in my mental state, and that’s when all the crap started taking over my life. But that’s another topic for another blog post.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Gay and Mental Illness

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Well this is going to be controversial. Please stop reading here if you don’t feel like you’re the type of person who might actually tackle this topic with an open mind. Don’t read if you don’t believe in mental health and/or gay people.

 

From now on when I say Gay I’m referring to the LGBTTQQIAAP community, which I am sure to add a letter or two after I finish this article.

Let’s start off with the first controversial statement, “Being gay is not, I repeat, not a mental illness”. I’m sorry for any person reading this and getting their bubble burst. Let me tell you why.

 

So as Maria Von Trapp would say, “Let’s start at the very beginning”, which I personally think is a very good place to start. Mental illness is something one suffers from and is bothersome and causes discomfort. Internal discomfort that sometimes translates or projects to the external. So depression and anxiety are examples of mental illness and they are annoying as hell. They make you feel gloomy and give you a sense of unease. A lot of people may not be able to understand completely due to the fact that they haven’t personally felt their symptoms, just like I won’t feel the pains of giving birth; although I’ve heard it comes at a close second to getting smacked in the nuts, I’m not completely sure, because I came up with that just now. But I digress. In a nutshell, having a mental illness is not a choice, but is annoying as hell and one should try to live with it, beat it, and cope with having it.

 

Now to go on to the topic of being gay. Just like mental illness, it’s not a choice. Just as I can’t choose my mental illness from a catalog of mental illnesses (or is the plural of illness, illni….we may never know) you can’t actually pick if you want to be gay or not, or who you are attracted to, or what gender you feel you belong to. And that’s as far as the comparison between the two should go. So let’s stop blaming people for what  they are and have.

 

The second point is “Gay people don’t need therapy”. I’d rather if people who are pouring all their efforts into treating gay people, shift these efforts and start helping people with actual mental illnesses (or is it illnii? *suspense builds*) who are suffering.

 

Being gay doesn’t cause you internal suffering. The only suffering they go through is sometimes external depending on the environment surrounding them. Never has a gay person felt discomfort from being gay. I’m not saying they don’t suffer, they do, but not because of their sexual orientation. Au contraire (and thus I have used all the French I know), the suffering comes from external factors, mainly, people who do not accept them and accept their “difference”. It’s really hard for some to wrap their minds around things they haven’t experienced.

 

One last thing I want to tackle is the aspect of adopting kids by a gay couple. I’m talking about it only from a point of view that cares and argues for the psychological impact on the kids.

 

I personally think adoption is not just fine but I wish it would happen more. Wait, hold your horses and pump your brakes. No one would appreciate having kids more than people who can’t have them. A couple of counter-arguments I have heard was the fact that it’s not natural. It goes against nature and having two parents of the same sex is detrimental to the kid’s psyche.


To that I would argue the following, sometimes it’s not natural for a heterosexual couple to bear children due to being sterile so they do tend to the option of adoption (I swear didn’t mean to rhyme, for that I ain’t got the time *drops keyboard*). So in some cases it goes against nature for a different sex couple to get pregnant. In other cases sometimes on of the parents dies, and the kid is raised by the other which happens to be of a single sex, therefore the kid is subject to only one sex growing up. And also sometimes a kid is born into an abusive family, either physical or mental, and that’s not natural too.

 

Finally I think any kind of love is better than no love at all. A lot of kids are suffering and getting depressed because of lack of love in their lives. Who cares if this love comes from parents who are of the same sex. Who cares? Who? Who? Owl tell you…No one should care. All everyone should care about is that love is given no matter who it is from.

 

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Weed and OCD

Wait wait wait….before you start getting the wrong idea, read me first and read till the end.

Let me start by saying I never ever do anything I am not convinced of. I am a big opponent of smoking (cigarettes and others that are consumed in a habitual manner), alcohol, and hard drugs. I have never smoked nor drank nor done drugs in my entire life. To this day I refuse to drink alcohol for the sole reason that I am not convinced, even with pressure from my closest friends. I have also cut carbonated beverages from my life. I don’t drink coffee, and hate energy drinks.

I didn’t decide to try weed because I was at a low place in my life. Oh no no no! I made it a point and a mission that I would never take the short way out, not because I’m a very strong person, but because I never wanted to numb or ease the pain with unnatural ways. I would always rather wait on the pain and agony rather than take a shortcut. Probably it’s because I’m programmed that way, or because I’m a perfectionist (not your usual positive connotation of the word). I’m not sure. All I know is that in my lowest of lows, I would never take that road. I am not judging anyone who goes into alcohol or drugs, because honestly I don’t know what they are passing through, and my pain may be a drop in the bucket compared to theirs.
Now let’s get on to the juicy part of this blog.

I was with a couple of friends and I alluded to my intention to meet Mary Jane. They said Weed love it if you Joint us next week. They were very Blunt. It took me a Spliff second of thought to decide, and I said: “That’s a Dope idea. I like the way you guys Roll!” (trending now in your mind, HASHtag weed puns. Why do I do this? Because I Can…nabis). OK OK OK….No more weed puns. I won’t Pot another one….That one slipped by mistake. My bad.

Anywho, the first time I ever tried to smoke up was on a Friday night back in October of last year. Ironically I started this blog the Sunday after, but that was a total coincidence and had nothing to do with weed. The first time, I had Hash. It was my first time, and I had no expectations whatsoever. Up to that point I had never smoked or inhaled smoke. I didn’t have my smoking cherry popped yet. On that fateful night, I was taught how to inhale. How to take a puff in. I was warned that the first time is a bit tricky, and will cause a tickling feeling in my throat. They really downplayed the effects of a person’s first inhalation ever. I took in the first puff. I inhaled inward as I normally do – per the advice of my friends. I coughed out two lungs and one spleen. I have never had a coughing feeling so intense. It wasn’t just a tickling feeling in my throat, God damn it, it was as if I had swallowed a porcupine. Dear lord I coughed a lot. I tried to “human up” (don’t want to say “man up” because some may find it sexist *looks at feminists*) and tried not to cough. Needless to say that didn’t work well for me.

However by night’s end I can’t say I was as high as my friends, because they were laughing at the paint on the wall. It didn’t take much to amuse them. I, on the other hand…well all I felt was a sense of calming down. I didn’t want to talk as much as I would on a regular day. And I was less fidgety and my brain wasn’t burning oil without having a thought to think of (in normal days, my brain acts as if it is thinking of something, but not a single thought or obsession is present. I just can’t turn it down and relax). So basically hash made me cool down physically and mentally.

But wait, there’s more. My first time, I dabbled with Hash. I was a bit critical on it having to be mixed with tobacco, as I wholeheartedly dislike it. As I was issuing my grievance with tobacco, I was told that weed, however, doesn’t need to be mixed with tobacco (it’s mixed with just a tad so it would burn, but it’s almost undetectable).

So on an overnight trip in the mountains with a few friends, one of them happened to have some Weed on hand. I was asked to tag along, and tag along I did. I took a few puffs, but this time, well needless to say, no coughing episodes occurred. I was a semi-pro at inhaling (not said with pride). A few puffs in, it hit me. I realized that weed gives the brain a fuzzy feeling hard for one not to notice. It’s a nice feeling. I felt calm. I felt a different feeling than what I have experienced before.After a while, I retreated back to my room. I found out that it was easier for me to read. I wasn’t losing focus and keep going backwards to read things I felt I didn’t concentrate on. In usual life activities as well as reading, I was no longer looking backwards (with OCD, you tend to look back at almost every action and evaluate, even if for just a split second before you discard it, but the intrusive thoughts are always there even if not causing anxiety or obsessions). For that period of time I felt weird. It was really new to me not to get intrusive thoughts, at least in several aspects I usually get them in. I was even trying to think backwards and try to trigger something but it wouldn’t happen. All I was focused on was the very second I am in. With every moment I felt like I left the passing one to the past and never went back and never gave it a second thought. For me that was probably the weirdest, strangest, and to a certain extent scariest experience. I say scariest because I have never lived outside my thoughts; I have managed to break the connection to severe anxiety and obsession, but never without intrusive thoughts bombarding my mind without a trigger.

However, here comes the disclaimer. I did all that before I knew there was a risk of developing paranoia, hallucinations, depression, or even psychotic episodes. The risk may be low or high (no pun intended), but there’s a risk nevertheless. It all depends on a person’s inclination and whether or not they may have a tendency or predisposition to develop such severe ramifications.

I would only encourage using weed and its derivatives under supervision (if that is even a thing) of a doctor or a psychologist or a Jamaican.

It would also help if there exists any possibility of studying a person’s inclination and tendency to develop harmful, long term,  life-lasting problems. I have to this day never heard of any of these aforementioned suggestions, but one never knows what is and isn’t present in this world and what science may be capable of.

On this High note, all is left to say is…..

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

A Tsunami of Emotions: How We Feel TENfold

I’m talking from my point of view as well as that of a few very close friends of mine (with OCD and depression), who I have come to realize, share this intensity in feeling.

One might ask, how could you, you mentally disordered person, know what is going on in other people’s minds and how they feel and to what degree? To that question, a very simple answer: “Simply talking to them you nincompoop.” Talking to others is a great way to compare abstract things such as emotions. I am not able to gauge feelings in a quantitative fashion, but by conversing with others I get a sense of the enlargement of thought and emotions we pass through that may lead to anxiety, obsession, and even depression.

I have come to realize that as I have witnessed first hand – by talking or seeing – how others may react to similar events as the ones I went or am going through. I see how they go on with their lives and daily routines. Also, after passing through the event, and having it become a thing in my past,  I reevaluate the array of emotions I felt and the roller coaster of feelings I went through. This reevaluation helps me look at that specific period from a more emotionally-detached (to a certain extent) place. I’m not saying I feel nothing when I recall past events, but their impact on my life is just something that happened already and has no ramifications on current occurrences. That makes it easier for me to look at them and evaluate my past emotional state.

I have realized that I tend to blow shit out of proportion. No, No! You don’t fathom how much feelings I put into silly stuff – granted they weren’t apparently silly at first.  For me any event that happens that I perceive to be a negative, kills me on the inside. I have recently come across some of these events, but first let me state that the intensity this time was on par with at least two other intense moments of emotions; the highest, worst ones I have ever had the pleasure of going through. In these few cases I took feeling to a whole new level. A whole new world. A new frantic point of view. No one to calm us down or tell us what to do. Or say we’re only feeling. If you didn’t get the aforementioned reference, then Ala-just-ddin was for nothing….absolutely nothing.

I feel that I’m in a box, a box of darkness. I feel that everything around me is dark and grey and everything pulls me down. I fight not to think. I am the guy standing behind a door pushing on it to stay closed as a flood of thoughts wants to come through. Every now and again I’d slip a bit and lose footing, and a thought would seep through. Consciously I go back to fighting and pushing on the freakin’ door. I tend to want to sit alone, but that kills me. I try to go out and be around others but that doesn’t help as well. The feelings only intensify and follow wherever you go as a black cloud hanging above one’s head. Everything seems to pull you down, and you feel like screaming, “but the words won’t come out, he’s choking how, everybody’s joking now” as the great angry rapper Eminem said in his epic masterpiece of the year 2001. I reach a point where I feel that I want to get out of my body. As if the pain inside is too big for my body to contain. This is the worst feeling of all. This is the highest summit of pain I have ever reached.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

That Damn Unconscious!

My psychiatrist has opened my eyes to this topic. It happened when I was doing my routine checkup with him. We started with the usual questions about where my life is at and what’s changed since the last saw each other – no, we’re not dating. He asked about the obsessions. I complained that I still get some that annoy me, but in general they have lessened in number and intensity. He asked about my work, social life, family, and future. I was satisfied and totally not worried on all aspects of life. I had nothing bothering me or causing any worry. When I say nothing I mean not a thing. I was working, going out, on good terms with la familia, and had set plans for my future. Still I was getting obsessions and panic attacks. I would get a panic attack out of nowhere. I start feeling my heart beat rapidly, my breath becomes heavy, my brain starts working as if it’s thinking but no thoughts are present, just the process. It’s a very annoying and paralyzing feeling. I wasn’t having a panic attack over something I was consciously thinking of. Nothing was causing me discomfort in life. That’s when my psychaycay said that the trigger was probably my unconscious.

He once told me that the obsessions are just manifestations. They are red flags. They pop up in order to let the person know that something is of annoyance to him or her. Just like fever signaling the presence of bacteria or a virus in the body. But the difference is that there’s no specific symptom that leads to a specific diagnosis. It’s a bit too general; you get a panic attack, then something unconsciously is bothering the heck out of you (in case the attack wasn’t triggered by something conscious).

At first I took it at face value and didn’t think of it that much. However I was convinced of what he said after I went through what’s to follow. Recently I have been experiencing passing obsessions, by which I mean that I do get a thought, but it quickly goes away without leaving any anxiety behind. A few weeks back, I went to a retreat in the mountain side of this country. It was a two day thing and I had to sleep outside the comfort of my humble house. There, at the retreat, I got several sticky obsessions that triggered anxiety. But when I came back home to Beirut, they faded away, and I started thinking of how silly they were. I told my psychiatrist about this and he explained the situation. My unconscious was unfamiliar with its surroundings. That caused my uncomfortable brain to start going crazy, and its way of telling me was through obsessions, as it has no other way of communicating peacefully with me. It’s as if I am in a relationship with a girl, I come home to find mad at me, and I have to decipher the underlying reasons.

So in short, if you feel everything is going well in life, but you’re still getting obsessions and/or panic attacks, then I have got some bad news for you. Okay, it’s not so bad, it’s just that you need to put more effort (read money) and go see someone who deals with the unconscious side of a brain that has communication issues.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Know your Thoughts!

The way I like to live life is by putting things into categories. I believe in absolutes, black or white, yes or no. This made me, at several times, just take a step back from everything – inside and outside my head – and think of how to categorize the thoughts I have been getting.

I have started off with the following two categories; intrusive and non-intrusive. Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that come out of nowhere. They are involuntary. They just pop in your head. Usually unpleasant and hard to get rid off, many times, they turn into obsessions. Such thoughts don’t need any trigger (You see a red car, you think of a red car. That thought had a trigger. But if you were just sitting looking at the sea and suddenly an image of a car pops up in your mind, that wasn’t triggered). Usually intrusive thoughts tend to vary in intensity, as some may be easily dismissed while others can’t, and may evolve to obsessions. That being said, it’s easy to define the non-intrusive thoughts as thoughts we have control over; control over starting and ending them.

The second category I classified was the obsessive thoughts and non-obsessive thoughts. Differentiating between them is pretty simple: an idea that gets stuck in your brain for a period of time and you can’t but think of. When you try to get rid of it, like a boomerang, it’ll come back. And many times it comes back bigger and more intensified. Simply put, an obsession is a thought one can’t simply discard. On the other hand, non-obsessive thoughts are normal thoughts that come and go with ease and are simple for one to control.

The third category has to do with the types of feelings the thoughts trigger. I am focusing mainly on anxiety and the feeling of panic and impending doom one gets. I have split them into two; positive and negative thoughts. The words Positive and Negative aren’t adjectives of the thoughts; they don’t describe the thought and its content. Simply put, a positive thought leads to positive (good) feelings, while negative thoughts lead to negative (bad) feelings. I have come to the realization that a negative thought is any thought that triggers a negative feeling (mainly felt in the chest area) given that this thought is irrational. AND if one already knows he has OCD and/or anxiety related disorders, then any thought that triggers anxiety and panic is usually irrational disregarding how rational it seems, and that is due to the prevailing condition. In the moment, the thought could (and many times will) sound logical and rational, but if one tries to take a step back and look at it objectively, it would seem totally irrational.

I have discovered that the following sequence occurs; intrusive, then obsessive, then negative feelings.
This has allowed me to manage and get things a bit more under control. When you know, it becomes a bit easier. It’s better to battle something you are aware of.

So long story short, any thought that seems to come out of nowhere, linger in the mind for a period of time, and then cause unpleasant and distressing feelings is usually a thought that should be fought and the only way to fight it is by consciously disregarding it (time and time again, as it will start creeping in, that’s why I say consciously disregard it) and letting the negative feelings take their course without acting upon them. It’s just something that will pass. Although the feeling during this aforementioned process is excruciating, it’s the only way to improve life as with time the thoughts’ effects will decrease drastically (and I mean DRASTICALLY).

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Punny Poem

In early 2009 I was accepted at HEC in Lausanne, Switzerland. Lausanne is in the French canton and it is grand. It has a lovely lake and green land.

I have been always hesitant to go to France or any other French speaking place, but I said “screw it, I have nothing TOULOUSE”. At that point I was accepted in several other places, so I had options from which to choose.

I set my mind on that university in the land of the Swiss, but in later days I regretted that wish.

Although I don’t have any fascination with cars, but little did I know that my situation would ESCALADE. On that topic, I have a lot of statements that need to be made.

On the outside, I always maintained the smiles, but on the inside, from comfort I was miles.

I was also feeling sad,gloomy, and grey. I hated my life every single freaking day.

My mind was plagued by obsession. The whole process pushed me into depression.

I couldn’t get out of it on my own, for how can one heal if the illness is not known?

OCD dominated me as to obsessions I was a target and a prey. They whipped me around like I was Anna and they were Christian Grey.

Just like when it comes to the topic of bondage sex, my hands were tied, and it never made sense.

Thoughts were coming out of the blue, the point of origin of which I hadn’t a clue.

When you are indulged in obsessions and similar shit, not even your Japanese friend can TOKYO out of it.

I remember always keeping the laptop turned on with something playing until dawn. I did that because otherwise I would be overwhelmed with thoughts and breakdown.

I needed something louder than the thoughts to focus on, and anything with sound was helpful when I was alone.

But one day, the laptop died on me, and the effects I definitely could see.

Now my fear was real, and that night was one of the worst I’d feel.

I started to cry and weep and I completely broke down . Tears ran down my cheek and in them I did drown.

I don’t know if it had to do with hormones, but I am pretty sure I sounded like how a whore moans.

I reached a point where I would always cry, powder came out my eyes as the canal of tears was completely dry.

I remember starting to think of many an event. And I could feel my chest buckle under blocks of emotional cement.

Thoughts of events that were years old, started bombarding me and I started shivering as if I were cold.

Silly things like past occasions or even a game of monopoly would cause me more sadness, anxiety, and worry.

I used to obsess and over-think, the more I did, the deeper I would sink.

I was losing my mind clearly, and just like the time I lost my pet gazelle, I was going to miss it DEERly.

Although at times I lost all hope, I never wanted to end my pain and use a rope.

That was one of many severe meltdowns and mental episodes, which  I will talk about in later blog posts.

I will also talk more about and elaborate on this, or what I like to call “Meltdown in the Land of the Swiss”.

I just wanted to write my experience in a punny poem, as these two are some of my favorite obsessions and I love’em.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

See Them Before They Go Away

Today, February the 16th, my paternal grandmother died. I can’t feel but guilt. I am incapable of feeling sadness as I am happy for her, because she was in a lot of agony for too long. However I cannot kick that feeling of guilt. And as I am writing this, that feeling is causing me to tear up.

Why am I feeling guilty? I know the answer to that. I haven’t seen her or visited her in quite some time. It’s not that I didn’t love her. I loved her. She was an amazing person. However, the problem is within me. More like, the problem is me.

Regardless of wherever I am going, as soon as I know or even think about going out, I get anxious. Any sort of going out gives me anxiety. Its levels differ from day to day, but nevertheless, it is present. I get a bad, sinking feeling in my chest. It could be described as a cross between fear and nervousness. There is no reason whatsoever for me to get that. I am not scared of the outside. I don’t fear people. Au contraire, I love being outside and I adore people. But I cannot help the feeling I get. In such cases, I would think about how much I rather be on my own, in my comfort zone.

Every time I thought of going to my grandma’s, I would get struck by anxiety. The thing is that I am not forced to go. It is something I want to do. That’s why when anxiety hits, I don’t feel obliged to leave home, because it has nothing to do with work, necessity, sickness, or having to meet someone I have an appointment with. What I am trying to say in so many words is that in some occasions when I feel obliged to go out – because going out in these cases is necessary for me to maintain life and living – I would push through the pain and tolerate the meanness of the anxiety. Many times I also start getting obsessions before going out or while I am out. I don’t know why it happens, but it does.

Whenever I thought of going out and visiting her, anxiety would strike, and I say “Not today. Today I can’t. I’ll go soon for sure.” That’s the biggest lie I tell myself “I’ll definitely do it later.” So I end up not going. “Soon” comes and I push it to another “soon”. I kept on doing that until she died. And now I hate and blame myself.

What I want to make clear is that these feelings are crap. They are total bullshit and tricks played on us by us. Just don’t trust everything you feel. Sometimes conscious and rational thinking will cause much more discomfort, but it will give better results to you in the long run (when you start getting used to disregard anxiety), and to everyone around you, all the time.
If you want to go out and the idea seems right, don’t let anything physical or abstract stand in your way. Time will never go back, and you will end up with sorrow and regret.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.