It’s been a while, and other song lyrics…

Howdy folks!

I haven’t abandoned this blog, in fact I’m planning to write posts on a much more regular schedule, but life has changed in major ways in the past 6 months and I’m still in the middle of it. So it’s going to be a little bit, and I won’t be writing 8 days a week, but I’ll write up a full post once I have internet access at home again.

Until then, here’s my new hat!

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Tis The Season to be Mindful

G’morning everyone!

It’s been a long hard second half of 2018 in my life, but I’m thankful to still be around. If you read the description of this page, I mention mental health, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

First off, I am a fan of ending the negative stigma attached to mental health issues. You wouldn’t blame my mom for the cancer that took her would you? It was an illness she had no part in causing or control over, and she did everything she could to conquer it. Now think about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, BPD, clinical depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health issues. Can you say the same about your attitude towards them?

So many people in the US, and worldwide, still see mental health issues as somehow the fault of those suffering them, as though a person with BPD would choose to go through the hell they do, or someone with depression enjoys feeling like a worthless subhuman for no reason. I don’t know a single person who suffers from a mental health issue who would choose to remain afflicted, given the choice.

Talking about our individual issues is one way to end the stigma. Humanizing things like depression, PTSD, BPD, by putting a name, face, and story to them helps people who don’t understand to realize that these are real issues faced by their friends and family and they aren’t choices.

My story is simple, I have clinical severe acute depression and generalized anxiety disorder. To simplify, I have severe depression and moderate to severe social anxiety. My treatment includes Wellbutrin and Lexapro, because my issues are caused by a chemical imbalance of seratonin in my brain.

I’ve been told to “just cheer up”, asked “what do you have to be sad about”, and all the other typical things people with depression hear regularly. “Have you tried getting outdoors?” is a popular one. Here, a photo of my office:

I don’t know how much more “outdoors” I could get aside from living in a forest.

Aside from trying to help remove the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues, I’d like to share some of the things I try to do to fight my depression in addition to my medication. I am a firm believer in science, medication, and treating mental illness as a physical illness, because it is. I also believe that there are things we can do outside of medication and therapy to help ourselves.

“Have you tried going outdoors?” is likely the best of the well-meaning things said to someone suffering from depression specifically, simply because it’s been proven to be helpful in many cases. Often those of us with depression find ourselves wanting to escape, and often that includes hiding away in our bedroom, office, or other private space, away from people. Going outside isn’t a cure, but nature does heal, and a simple walk through the park or quick hike in the hills isn’t just pleasant, it’s clinically proven that time outside and exercise are good for our mental health. I recently refurbished a bicycle, though with my surgeries I’ve been unable to ride but a few times, I found those times very helpful in improving my mental state.

A major symptom of depression is lacking the ability to feel interested in things you enjoy. It’s as if a heavy black fog is holding your excitement down when you know you should be enjoying yourself. You may know about my hobbies– woodworking, voice acting, podcasting, etc, but you may not know that often it is extremely difficult for me to enjoy those things. Many times my depression is so deep I can’t even bring myself to begin a project, let alone enjoy or finish one.

Game of Thrones inspired wall hanger set
Game of Thrones inspired wall hanger set from my woodshop

To combat this I’ve become aware of the need to force myself to Start. If I can just force myself to start working in my shop, or start recording a narration, I find the fog begins to clear and make way for the focus required to create a thing or perform a role in a tale.

Another thing I do is attempt to help others. Through things like Roll4Change I do what I can to improve life for other people. Roll4Change is an organization I helped found with like-minded creators to fundraise for charity. Right now you can go to www.Roll4Change.org/donate and donate to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In doing so, you help the work they are doing to remove the negative stigma, as well as provide resources to those who need them.

I hope someone can read this and know they aren’t alone, that mental illness isn’t their fault, and that there is zero shame in admitting and seeking help for a problem. It took me decades to do just that, and I really don’t think I would have survived all of the loss I’ve been through in recent times without the help of medicine and counseling, along with the love of my friends and family.

Talk to your family, friends, doctors, and let them know what you’re going through. Nine times out of ten they’ll be there for you, and if they aren’t, I will. Email me at thatfatdadblog@gmail.com if you need help. I am not a doctor, counselor, or psychiatrist. I’m just another human who suffers from mental health issues, and I will do everything in my power to help you with yours. It wasn’t too late to change my life, between medication and support that change is likely why I’m still alive. Please consider yourself, your friends and family, and reach out if you, or they, need a change too.

The Best Boy

Hello readers.

Today is a sad post. CW, pet loss. So if you are having a good day, click away from here.

On Saturday, November 3, 2018, we lost our oldest dog Arnie to old age. When I was in the Air Force, training at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi in 2003, ThatHotWife decided she wanted a dog to keep her company in our on-base housing while I was at work.

We scoured the newspapers, at the time we didn’t have a computer or internet access, and found a kennel in Alabama, selling chihuahuas. AKC certified, purebred, genuine showdogs. Of course I thought that was ridiculous, buying from a breeder instead of adopting, buying a chihuahua instead of a “real” dog, and driving for hours to pay hundreds of dollars we really couldn’t afford. But as usual the wife talked me into the trip “just to see.”

When we got there we saw dozens of beautiful little fuzzballs, yip-yapping incessantly in their enclosure, and ThatHotWife began inquiring their prices. The first few were in the $500-$600 range, well over double what she’d expected. So we asked if there were any lower priced pups. Sure there were! This one here is only $300 and that one there is only $250!

Nope. Not gonna happen. An A1C made about $1,100 a month back then, and we were renting everything in our house because we couldn’t afford to buy furniture and then leave it behind. $250 for a yippy ratdog was not happening.

After a terse conversation with the wife we decided to say Thanks, but no. We can’t afford that kind of pedigree apparently. Then we saw one pup, he had been quiet the entire time. He sat atop the little doghouse peering down at all the other yipyappers in a way that made me laugh. Like he was Snoopy, Mr. Cool, judging all these tiny, noisy, hyperactive runts.

He wasn’t that much bigger than any of them, but being the same age he was definitely larger than he had any right to be. We asked about him, that one on top of the doghouse, and the breeder exclaimed “oh, that one? He’s got a condition that makes him grow a lot bigger than the rest. I sold him to a lady who shows dogs professionally but had to exchange him for another when she brought him back for doubling in size in a week. There’s no market for a giant chihuahua. He’s fifty bucks, out the door.” His personality had him sold before the price was said, but the fact that nobody would want him because he grew too fast, well we had to take him home or he’d live his whole life in that cage.

So, we did. A few hours drive later and we were at home with our new boy, Ahnold Wiederhuge Von Weeks the Third. Arnie, for short. Obviously a silly name, but he was a giant for his breed, and we are silly people.

Fast forward through the births of 4 children, the losses of too many friends and relatives, marriage troubles, money troubles, health crisis’, and all the other ups and downs a decade and a half brings to a family and here we are.

15 years, 8 months. Arnie was the worst dog ever. He peed all over, he pooped all over, he ate everything, he had no shame and no regrets. He refused to sleep anywhere but with us in our bed, at first curled up behind my legs, then later with his head on our pillows with his back to mine. We kept each other warm and safe.

When I sat down in my chair or on the couch, he was always just a step behind to wedge himself between my leg and the armrest. When I went to the bathroom, he waited at the door. When I was sick he stayed in bed with me and while I was at work he waited for me to get home.

He tore up the trash every chance he got. He jumped up on the table in a hunt for scraps. He whined like nobodies business until he got a bite of our dinner. He was a horrible dog.

But he was the best boy. He watched over us and loved us, we watched over him and loved him. When he got older we had to pick him up to get on the bed and back off again. He was mostly blind and selectively deaf for the last few years but he was also fiercely independent, minus the help we gave him for his challenged vertical leap. He was our first baby, a big part of why our marriage lasted in those early days, and as I always said, my Very Hairy Firstborn Son.

I can’t say anything that could possibly express how much I love and miss my boy. But I hope you get the idea. If dogs don’t go to heaven, I don’t want to either. So here’s hoping the movie is right, and I can look forward to yelling “Arnie, get off the dinner table!” on the other side.

So, since I can’t really see very well right now thanks to this local rainstorm in my eye area, here’s some pictures to remember him.

Rest In Peace, my good boy.

Back, and Dadder Than Ever

Howdy Folks,

I’m back, after weeks of wanting to post and just not having the words, I’m here. If you read my last post, you know why I’ve been gone so long, and dealing with my mother’s passing has gotten exactly zero percent easier to deal with over the last 2 months. So Instead of writing a post with all kinds of family pictures and anecdotes, I’m going to copy/paste the thread I just posted on Twitter for #WorldMentalHealthAwarenessDay, which happens to be today, October 10’th.

The reason I’m going to copy/paste it is because I don’t know if I have any vision impaired readers, and screenshots aren’t great for accessibility when vision impaired folks use text-to-speech screen readers to follow their favorite sites. So, here it is, in it’s exact format (with a couple spelling corrections), because I think the context of only having 280 characters per paragraph will give better clarity.

”          Serious note for anyone following me that calls me a friend

I’m not doing well. In any way. So this #WorldMentalHealthAwarenessDay I want to give you a bit of me, my regrets, what I’m going through right now, and why I’m the guy you never have to check up on. 1/

So most everyone knows my mom died on August 12th. I’m still dealing with that internally. I don’t think I’ll ever not be doing that, but right now it’s still what we’ll call immediately impactful. Aside from that my place at work, not my job, but my home, my way of life, 2/

the way I provide for my family and the life I’ve always wanted (living out in the country, being a hands-on leader, being as self-sufficient as possible) is at best nebulous in its longevity.

My marriage, honestly, is pretty good. We’re doing ok. So really not much to say 3/

My role as a dad though, not so great. I’m diagnosed and medicated for severe acute depression and moderate to severe anxiety disorders. What that means is sometimes my kids want me to “look at me” & I’m sitting in my truck staring at the moon instead. Because I can’t take it. 4/

That’s something that I became keenly aware of today as I walked into my office as my son’s sentence trailed off because he’s accepted the fact that when daddy sits down at the computer it means you don’t have his attention anymore.

He’s 4. I had no work to do. 5/

The fact that I know that isn’t right. But just like knowing heroin will kill you doesn’t make you stop shooting up, knowing you’re a shit dad because of depression doesn’t make you stop craving isolation to fight your demons. So I’m not doing that anymore. 6/

I’m making a commitment now to be better. I’m not a great person, dad, boss, employee, friend, husband, son, brother, cousin, anything. But I’m going to try to be BETTER. Whatever that takes. That’s my pledge this #WorldMentalHealthAwarenessDay

Oh, and /thread. If you take anything away from this, I hope it’s that you can always make a decision to change. Whether that means your diet, approach to mental health issues you have, overall positivity, anything, it’s never too late to change.”

 So, there you have it, my State Of ThatFatDad Address. As I said in the beginning, I’m not doing well, but I’m trying my hardest to take this pain and turn it into progress. I don’t think my mom would take kindly to the fact that I was a passive father. I think she’d want me to be as involved and active as I possibly could be, and that’s my mission. I want my mom and dad to be proud of the son they raised, because they spent their all on myself and my brother, and that effort can never, ever, go to waste.

Remember, it’s never too late to change your life, and in changing yours, you could change so many more for the better.

mom
“Here fishy, fishy, fishy!” – Donna Lee Weeks 3/17/1960 – 8/12/2018

 

A moment’s pause

Hello everyone,

I know I haven’t update this blog in a while. I plan on continuing in the very near future. For now, I have bad news.

On the night of August 12’th, 2018, my mother Donna Lee Weeks went to be with the Lord. She fought multiple cancers and a brain tumor towards the end, and she was a strong and beautiful woman the entire time. I’ve tried my hardest not to be self-destructive in my grief, because I know she wouldn’t want that, but despite that I have taken time away from the IF/OMAD lifestyle because honestly, it’s just too hard right now. Perhaps if I was years into the lifestyle it would be normal to continue, but at this point in my journey I just don’t have the willpower to handle all this at once.

That being said, I’ve seen definite deterioration in my health since stopping IF/OMAD. My severe IBS problems have returned and I’ve regained weight up to 257lbs, up from my current low of 249. I know it works and on Sunday August 19’th I will be resuming the One Meal A Day lifestyle.

Back to what I’m taking a moment’s pause for, I want to do what I can to honor my mother. I love her so much, and it hurts so much that she’s gone, even though I know for a fact the reality of it has yet to hit me. I know there’s a point in the near future where my brain will decide I’m ready to accept reality and let me feel everything that it’s not letting me feel right now, and I really don’t look forward to that day. No matter what pain is left for me to go through, I’d go through it a thousand times for one more day with her. I’d go through it a million times for my father to have one more day with her. I’d go through it for eternity if I only could have saved her from the pain and fate she was dealt. Sadly, none of that is possible.

Life sucks, and then you die, unless you knew my mother. If you knew her, you knew that life didn’t suck. She made life worth living. She gave such a positive perspective to life that even a nihilistic depressive like me could not help but inherit an ingrained attitude that there is an inherent value to living. That will last my lifetime and my children’s and their children’s. The greatest gift my mother gave us with her love was the undeniable reality that human beings are greater than their perceived worth, greater than their demonstrated value, and greater than the hurt they may happen to cause. My mother was evidence of the love of a greater being. If you believe in God, she was his light. If you don’t, she was the proof that you were wrong. There was and never will be any debate that Donna Lee Weeks was a shining soul made of pure love.

I wish I could continue, but the screen is getting very blurry. So I’ll leave you with some pictures of my wonderful, beautiful, loving, kind, compassionate, and altogether too good for this world mother.

I miss you mom. I wish you could hold me while I cry the way you did so many times.

Progress Proves Process

Hey folks!

I’m 16 days into the IF/OMAD lifestyle (some people get really mad when you call it “a diet” because “a diet” is temporary) and just like the title to this post says, the progress proves the process.

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Like I’ve said before, I’m not trying to sell you this way of eating, I’m just trying to get my truck and hopefully get healthy in the process. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. But it seems to be working for me, so that’s pretty sweet. Check it out.

This is from my Fitbit app where I track my weight
This is from my Fitbit app where I track my weight

So there it is, 16 days, 14.2 pounds lost, zero effort input. I’ve been out in 106 degree heat, albeit for shorter time periods than I normally would because of my surgery, without any more distress than 106 degree heat would normally cause. Speaking of, anyone have a chicken ranch they need managed somewhere north of Eureka? Preferably where the temperature range is 40-70 over the course of the year? Shoot me an email, thatfatdadblog@gmail.com, it’s way too hot here. I’m getting distracted, here’s another picture!

I recently started using Vora, a Fast Tracker app on Android.
I recently started using Vora, a Fast Tracker app on Android.

That’s a screenshot from Vora, it tracks how long I’ve been fasting and keeps a record. I can even export the records in csv for an easy printup if I want to, or to use in a spreadsheet to make a graph if I feel like totally nerding it up about my weight loss. As you can see I’ve done pretty well, when I remember to hit the button. My fast goes from 10 or 11pm until I eat again, usually between 7 and 9pm the next day. In the meantime I drink a couple cups of coffee, usually one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and a ton of water. My boss gave me this rad TAL 40oz double wall aluminum jug that keeps water ice cold for like 24 hours, I drink at least 2 a day, usually more. The coolest thing about IF/OMAD? I get to eat WHATEVER I WANT.

My favorite deal of all time, BOGO pasta!
My favorite deal of all time, BOGO pasta!

That’s right, 5 cheese ziti and still losing weight! Seriously any diet or lifestyle that lets me become more healthy while still eating food that actually tastes good is aces in my book. It’s not even like I’m eating less calories, or at least not by enough to make a difference. That ziti is 1,200 calories alone, nevermind the breadsticks and piles of parmesan on the salad! The only reason I’m saying all this is because it’s awesome and I love eating delicious food. There’s a reason I’m having to lose weight, and that reason resides dead center of flavortown. Oh, and if you don’t know me very well yet, I also enjoy the mature beverage from time to time, usually with some delicious flavors.

A gift from a friend who is also trying the IF/OMAD lifestyle
A gift from a friend who is also trying the IF/OMAD lifestyle

This delicious concoction was sent to me by a truck driver friend who is also trying out the IF/OMAD lifestyle. So far he’s been doing well and seen an improvement in his heartburn, which is a pretty sweet bonus to losing weight and improved all around health.

So that’s how I’ve been doing with my weight loss journey. I’m highly encouraged by the results I’ve seen so far. I’ve also noticed that I value my meals much more than I ever did before. At this point I’m eating only what I want to eat because I love it, not just another plate of caloric mass to get through the day. In fact, I just finished a pair of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato basil soup and I’ll be rounding out the meal with a few rounds of that moonshine.

I hope following my story of self improvement helps you start your own, or encourages you to stick with it. If you have a story you want to tell, leave it in the comments! I’d love to hear from everyone who is reading this. Let’s encourage each other to be better. If you haven’t started your journey yet, it’s never too late to change your life!