I deserve worse.

THURSDAY — I'm fevered and tense, like I owe people phone calls, letters, or money. Of course, I do owe people phone calls, letters, and money, but usually I don't give a damn. Wonder if this is one of those "anxiety attacks" people talk about.

It's noon on a day off and nothing's pressing at me, but my heart is racing like I'm supposed to be somewhere important half an hour ago. 

And also, what's up with the fever? I've been feeling lousy for days now, with assorted aches and a belly that keeps trying to puke, but the fever is new.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Here's a letter from Sarah-Katherine, and it's polite, perfunctory, and it really says nothing. It's mighty short, too, but it's better than the rage I've been expecting since telling her I'm not moving to New York.

It's the first envelope she's sent me since before we met that came addressed to Doug instead of Doug ♥, but it's a friendly letter when I deserve worse. Glad she still likes me enough to lick a stamp.

♦ ♦ ♦  

FRIDAY — Dragged the cart to Telegraph and sold fish all day, but I sure didn't want to. Puked in the street behind my table, and the sight and stench wasn't good for business, but it was behind me and my nose is clogged so it didn't bother me.

When I got home, i had a sudden need to bawl like a baby. And after a good long lonely cry, I vomited again. Then I laid in bed staring at the ceiling, feeling like crap, and drifted off to a shitty night's sleep.

From Pathetic Life #21
Thursday & Friday,
February 22-23, 1996 

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. when you're infected with a virus and your body is fighting it, any number of emotional responses is possible. for example, I've experienced horrific anxiety/panic attacks ever since I was 16-1/2. My first one was brought on by the pot. I smoked one joint with two friends and while they were fine I got insanely paranoid and completely panicked. I'd smoked before and either felt nothing or laughed my ass off. But this time it turned on me. I checked with my friends but they assured me it wasn't laced with PCP or anything weird. I just had a negative reaction. I tried again two months later where I took two hits off a joint that other friends enjoyed. Again, I felt shitty. I've never bothered with it since. No need to find my strain. I can do without. However, two months after that last time, I sat in class and it felt like I was having a flashback which caused me to panic. I've never been the same.

    Most of the time I'm fine. But if I haven't slept or am feeling under the weather or super-stressed (which is rare, I avoid things that stress me out), I can feel really crummy. Also, as science is learning, there's a second brain in our gut that affects how serotonin levels run in the brain. Whenever I start feeling unusually agitated, weepy and/or completely out of power, I know diarrhea is a-comin'. Sometimes, it's a full four-six hours before it comes on, but if I'm weepy... to counteract it, I gobble Imodium (name brand, too, not the generic) and within an hour I'm usually powered back up. I may not crap for a week but I feel so much better.

    I've had issues especially since my gall bladder had to be removed when I was 38. I'd been having emergency room level pain attacks due to gallstones for over a year when I finally couldn't take it any longer - and was also warned by a guy who'd let his gallstones linger and ended up losing more than his gall bladder due to infection. The surgery itself was like Jiffy Lube. I went in that morning and by 1pm, they were anxious to get me out of there. It was laparoscopic, so just three tiny little marks on my Frankenbelly, as my wife called it. But I soon noticed I couldn't go back to eating anything I wanted. I could no longer tolerate oils, mayo, butter or fart-inducing foods like beans, broccoli, cauliflower...unless I wanted to live on the can day after day. I ended up using off-label this cholesterol lowering powder called cholestyramine. I still use it. It's better than the other option. It's also curbed my diet in a serious way. Most foods make me minority nauseous, so I have to be picky. Unless I want to feel sick and I do not. -- Arden

  2. Mr Arden, I've had generalized anxiety disorder for most of my life. It wasn't diagnosed until I was about 45 in the mid-90s, which didn't matter because there was no widely-prescribed targeted pharmaceutical treatment for most of the previous 40 years. I knew I was the nervous type and that I had social anxiety -- it's pretty obvious when you have the symptoms, but I didn't think of it as a disorder -- just a personality quirk.

    I had been treating the disorder for 25 years or so with Jim Beam, sometimes up to a bottle a day. Since Kentucky bourbon wasn't a targeted treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, both the primary effects and the side effects were problematic, causing family problems, divorces and other emotionally expensive problems.

    Finally, in 1996, I was diagnosed with a hole in my stomach that was a serious medical problem, about to become a fatal one. So no more booze medicine, no more coffee, no more orange juice.

    My doc suggested moderate doses of Alprazolam (brand name: Xanax). I started taking it and within weeks experienced a dramatic and life-changing transformation. I felt almost calm, without feeling sluggish, and I didn't miss the booze (OK, maybe a little, but it quickly passed).

    I've not had a drink or a cup of coffee since then and almost no citrus juice, but just about everything else I can afford is fair game. I meet with my doc quarterly to make sure that I'm not overtaking the med (Alprazolam is quite habituating, so has to be monitored). I'm taking just slightly more than my original 1996 dose, and getting by pretty well.

    I'm not suggesting that we have similar maladies or parallel lives. I'm just telling my story.


    1. Thank you for sharing your story, John. I've been fortunate. After the first few hellacious years, my anxiety has remained mostly in check. I have some old Xanax pills kicking around for times when I need a reset. I barely touch them. They definitely help when I'm unsettled but they also knock me out for up to two days at a time. if I take a full .5 dose, forget it. Even if I split it twice, if it catches me just right I'm out for the evening and most of the next day. Which sometimes can be nice. Other times it's insane because I can't get anything done that way.

      I've know others who've had to take a steady low dose and seem fine. Interestingly, it seems like women get overprescribed the benzos, either Xanax or Klonopin. A late friend of mine who suffered from anxiety took a low dose while his sister was prescribed 3 mil three times a day if I remember correctly. My friend couldn't figure out how she functioned at all on that dose.

      Glad it works for you. I've heard it's as tough as getting off anti-depressants, which I don't worry about because without Celexa I was having trouble finding any reason to live once my brain went into a deep funk. -- Arden

  3. Dougles, congrats on the job. I've had good jobs and crappy jobs, and if I've learned anything (a doubtful proposition) it's that most jobs can be made into tolerable and even good jobs when you pack the right attitude in your lunchbox. I don't mean those little bottles of liquor: I mean the idea of treating fellow workers like brothers and sisters, no matter how they treat you, and letting your work reflect the quality you'd like your life to contain.

    I hope you can resolve to have a good time on the Island of the Gods, and make a contribution of your intellect and your humanity, both of which are outstanding. Try to have fun and there's a chance that you actually will. I wish you well.


    1. Arden, it sucks what you've had to go through, but I'm glad you found a reason to live. Your existence makes this world less bland and more musical.

      Listen to your body, is what someone smart once told me. Your body told you to stay off the pot, and you listened. Me, I took two puffs on a tobacco cigarette when I was 8, felt immediately sick and never tried another. "You'll get used to it," the older kids told me, but what they didn't tell me is why I'd want to.

      Stress-induced diarrhea — hadn't heard that one before. No fun, no jokes.

      Guess that you're skinny, with all those foods you can't eat?

      Also glad you're alive, John.

      There's nothing I can offer from my medical history that's a quarter as miserable as what you two have been through. I've had no surgeries, no heavy boozing, not even any gallstones. Passed a kidney stone once, and it hurt like a knitting needle jammed straight through my ribs but without the blood. Even that, though, was only a few days.

      My health makes no sense. All my life I've mistreated my body and mind, eating all the wrong food and never getting any exercise to speak of, but other than a few barfy days and broken bones, my body's never complained yet. It'll have its vengeance in the end, of course.

    2. Wisdom of the aged, my friend. When I start complaining about the stupid work and the stupid people at this stupid job, remind me to re-read your comment from today.

      > Try to have fun and there's a chance that you actually will.

      I'm going to insist on it.


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