The SSRI slow dance

I have a debilitating mental illness that is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This is fairly typical for someone who has Aspergers and also fairly typical for someone who has experienced trauma. While I would not claim that my life has been more traumatic than other peoples our trauma is an experience that comes in many colors. Being bullied in school, losing my brother as a young adult and a failed marriage all contributed to the anxiety condition that was probably laying dormant ever since I was born because of the way my brain is hardwired for anxiety as someone with autism. I lived unmedicated for way too long and because of that my anxiety got worse and worse. I believe my vertigo spells are a direct result of my anxiety, last January I started to take a drug for my issues and the results are night and day.

I consider myself neither an optimist nor a pessimist but a realist. I am more interested in how things are rather than how they might be or how I hope the can be. With that in mind the drug I take is not a cure. If I stopped taking it tomorrow first I would have to deal with withdrawal effects as the amount of serotonin my brain is used to changed. Once those passed my anxiety levels would most likely return to the levels they were at before I began medication. Drugs are not a cure they are a mask, a band-aid, they are meant to cover symptoms while you heal, physically mentally and psychologically.  This is neither good or bad it’s just how it is. But it’s also where I need to be

Everyday when I wake up I am tired, too tired, this is a direct effect of the Lexapro in my system. increased serotonin can make you feel lethargic so getting up is a chore. To offset this I make sure that I have plenty of time to wake in the morning, get my breakfast ate  and head off to work. Some days are harder than others because sometimes getting to sleep is tough, this is also do to the serotonin in my system. At night the chemicals in my head and the chemicals in the medicine do a little dance and that can make things a little strange. I’ll have slight eye image issues, weirdness that is hard to describe but it’s almost like slight hallucinations. My body temperature will also be a bit funky but it all regulates after awhile. This doesn’t happen every night or every week but every now and then I’ll have this happen. Once it passes I am able to go back to sleep.

Having said all of that, with all of it’s small quirks and such being on an SSRI is totally worth it. I don’t have panic attacks anymore, I will occasionally get small bouts of dizziness but no longer so bad that I think I am going to pass out. My temper is better, not perfect but better. I am more present in life, more in tune with what is going on around me and not stuck in my own cycle of thoughts all of the time. I’ve been more emotionally available to Corrie, more willing to take risks, good risks. I can get through an entire day without thinking the whole world is going to fall apart at the seams. Sure I have a few annoying side effects but compared to the living hell I was going through with GAD with OCD.

Next week I’ll continue on this thread, from my unique Christian Misfit perspective, If Jesus is enough, and he has healed me why do I need to take medicine to combat anxiety. I am looking forward to it.

Undercover Angels

My wife and I just experienced true kindness yesterday, the kind of kindness that we all hope still exists in a world that is becoming more riddled with apathy and cynicism but you aren’t quite sure it’s still out there until you are presented with it. I usually tell people that I don’t believe in God because I’ve seen him, but I do believe because I see his fingerprints, this is a story about fingerprints.

SO some context is needed, I had a horrible week. Last Thursday I was involved in a minor fender bender, I was rear ended when waiting to be able to turn right. My truck took some damage, and I took some damage too albeit minor. Needless to say by Saturday I wasn’t in the best of moods. I was heading outside to take a rode on my new trike which my family and friends had just helped me purchase when I noticed my wife’s bike was missing.

She had her bike locked to the fence pole, it had a combination lock on it so someone had to cut the chain and then exit our property to have stolen it. It must have happened in the middle of the night. This was the 3rd bike stolen off of our property in 2 and a half years of living there. Needless to say Saturday morning, when my neck stiffness from an accident 2 days ago was setting in and I had a headache that I could not shake I was in no mood to have pity on some entitled jerk who stole our property. I was ready to purchase a gun and learn how to shoot. I’ve never wanted to own a gun in my entire life but I have had enough of crooks sneaking on my property. I was ready to do something about it.

Corrie posted an ad on Craigslist in the lost and found. She wasn’t feeling any better about this than I did, and her ad reflected that. She isn’t quite as colorful as I am with her language, but she did tell whoever stole her bike that they could sit on a cactus. The first response she got was almost so predicable it was sad. Some no name telling her ‘ with all of the things happening in the world right now you shouldn’t care so much about your own life”. These types of responses are usually written by people with enough money that if something gets stolen they can just go and replace it. God knows life would be so much better if we were all that rich. We ignored the troll who responded like that and tried to put the bike in the back of our mind. That’s when my wife heard from a lady named Evelyn

Evelyn said she had seen a similar bike to my wife’s, a bit older but the same style, and she wanted to buy it for us. Neither of us could believe it and I confess at first I thought it was just a cruel hoax of some kind. I honestly didn’t pay the offer any mind until she showed up last night at our door with the bike in tow.

She had purchased this bike for us which the guy was selling for $100, she doesn’t know us from Adam but she said she could hear the anger and despair in my wife’s words on the craigslist ad and she felt like she needed to do something. Her and her daughter came over, they were both the nicest folks. I still cannot believe that someone would do something like this for us. Not only did they give us the bike but they also left us a gift card which I believe we will be using to get the kid we mentor a Christmas present.

Part of the autistic experience, at least for me is a challenged ability to see anything beyond what is happening to me in the present moment. If I am being harmed or wronged in some way it is hard to see what underlying good could be happening. This isn’t always true, there are days when I am more in touch with the Holy Spirit that I can literally feel his presence even when I am in the midst of a trial but the events of the week had left me gun shy and unable to discern  where God was. Well he showed up big time in the kind act of a stranger. I felt cared for of course but it also reminded me of my sin, of my failure to see that God was taking care of us. I let the anger inside take over and I was ready to watch the world burn. Hopefully next time I will remember that God has a handle on all things, no matter how badly the boat rocks in the storm.


I’ve got a list of demands (Why I’m quitting Facebook)

Back around 2009 I discovered Facebook. I had been a loyal MySpace and Livejournal user before than but I liked Facebook because it seemed to be more about really connecting with people. The whole purpose was to connect with people that you knew, I was able to get back in touch with folks I hadn’t heard from in years. As the Facebook mania grew I began to see how it could be used in other ways. I bolstered support for my music endeavors, I helped a family at my church raise serious money with their husband and father passed away. I even got support from family and friends when I began a long journey into weight loss which I am still on today. Facebook was the greatest in my opinion. I loved keeping up with everything that people were doing. But soon, as it does with so many things, Facebook began to lose it’s luster.

I think I noticed it first when people would respond to some things I’d post and not others. If I posted a news story that I read and share what I thought was a well thought out and fair opinion on the piece, and people would come out of the woodwork and fight with me about it. Then they would fight with each other about it. I could leave Facebook for an hour and come back and people would still be flaming each other, like if someone held a differing opinion than you it would be the end of the world. The next day I could post a bit of humor, or a piece of music that I’ve written and nothing. No one would respond, no ‘likes’ not a peep. Go away for an hour, still nothing.

I don’t know if Facebook’s algorithm is to blame or if social media has just conditioned us to be a more combative people but I began to fall victim to a mentality that demanded respect. I had a long list of demands and theyt were not being met. I also have a strong reaction against bullying and the more people would fight with me the more I felt like I was being attacked, bullied, my comments would reflect that.

This is why I’ve decided that the problem isn’t necessarily with Facebook or the people that use Facebook but with me. I use Facebook in unhealthy ways and because I take everything so personally it’s not a good place for me to hang out, at least not for now. So I am stepping away. I am going to deactivate my Facebook for an undetermined amount of time, it could be 6 months, it could be longer, it’s not going to be easy but I think it’s important. While I am away from there I will focus on what’s going on in front of me, be fully present in life as it happens instead of checking in an out just to see what people are doing online. I am also planning on using this blog a couple times a week to begin telling a story. A story about how I live life and also the story about how I’ve gotten here from where I’ve come from. Eventually I may turn it into a book but either way there is a story to share, one I’ve been wanting to write for some time now. I hope you’ll come along.

I could have been Kennedy.

Yesterday, while the entire nation was mourning the loss of 9 people who were senselessly killed in a church in Charleston, there was another tragedy that flew under the radar. A smaller story about a young 16 year old kid named Kennedy LeRoy who was bullied at his high school because he was different, because he had Aspergers Syndrome. He killed himself while he was alone in his room a week ago today because of depression and because of the torment that he experienced at his school. I don’t blame you if you didn’t hear about this story, I wouldn’t have heard about it myself except I saw a blurb on my Facebook feed about it from Autism Speaks. It immediately hit me right in the gut because, that very well could have been me in that story. I could have been Kennedy.

I didn’t get bullied until I entered 1st grade, but after that bullying was a pretty regular occurrence in my life. I can remember being followed by groups of kids and laughed at, they would chase me on the playground, trip me up, surround me.

I remember being in second grade and using the restroom in my school, I would go into a stall to urinate as I didn’t like being crowded and some kids were trying to get into the stall to make fun at me. While trying to keep them out the stall ended up being rammed right into my forehead using a huge bruise which I can still vividly remember seeing. I wouldn’t use public restrooms for a long time after that, holding in my need to go until the point of pain so that I would not be abused.

I remember a girl publicly asking me out one day just so that she could publicly dump me several hours later, all of the girls would laugh and snicker at me for the rest of the day making sure I knew that she wasn’t ever really my girlfriend, I was 10.

There was a school dance and 2 of the ‘cool’ kids told me to come behind the bleachers because they had a secret to tell me. I willingly went, happy to be accepted by kids that were obviously cooler than me. While the first kid leaned in to tell me the ‘secret’ the other kid snuck behind me and put me in a choke hold. I couldn’t breathe and struggle to fight him off but they ran off before I could really do anything.

I accidentally backed my chain into a kid once who proceeded to push me around violently. I remember being scared to even tell the principal about this for fear that I would get suspended for fighting even though I didn’t fight back.

Kids would hide behind doors waiting for me to walk pass, they would call me names. Once in six grade several kids signed my yearbook with sexually explicit messages, asking if I ever had wet dreams, wondering when I would have sex, someone even told me ton get a sex change. My mom went through the year book with white out erasing those messages from the book but not from my mind.

In high school I had kids who were supposedly my ‘friends’ who would prank call my home all hours of the night. I would get teased for not showering, I would get teased for being fat, it finally got to the point that, just like Kennedy I would sit alone in my room for hours on end just listening to music, wondering why it was so hard for me to make friends. Wanting nothing more than to be accepted for who I was.

I barely survived High School, I don’t know how I did, I am surprised that I didn’t end up like Kennedy and others that I have heard of. I guess having the few friends that I did was enough to get me by but school was hell and I am glad I never have to relive those days. Being an adult is easy compared to the nightmare I went through.

I do not share all of this, many of which I’ve never publicly given details about, to make you feel sorry for me. I share it so that maybe after reading this you’ll want to become more involved with what is going on at your children’s school, does your kid know who the bully’s are? Are you kids being bullied by them? Are your kids the bullies? The more we know, the more information that comes to light, the safer are schools are going to be. Most bullies have issues of their own, I’ve learned this by talking to some of my own bullies as we’ve gotten older, I’ve learned a lot, many of my bullies were suffering some form of abuse at home, being aggressive at school was how the handled it. Is that an excuse for their behavior? No but it does explain a lot, the problem goes even deeper than we think, if we as a community can help get kids safe maybe, just maybe, there will be less bullying at school. Maybe someday we will not have to read about kids like Kennedy LeRoy in the past tense, we can read about the amazing things they are doing in their lives. One more suicide because of bullying is one too many. What are you going to do to help stop it?

We can put it to rest: I’m not hot and that’s ok

Last night my wife and I were talking and the subject of my attractiveness came up. I casually asked by not asking if she thought of me as hot and her response knocked the wind right out of my sails

“No, I don’t think of you as hot, I don’t really judge men that way, I’m attracted to you but you’re not hot.”

Boy did that hurt, there is an old adage about not asking questions if you don’t want the answer, and of course I did not zero in on what my wife was actually saying because all I heard were the words “you’re not hot”.

There is a part of me that wishes that women found me desirable, my wife talks about the guys that flirt with her and a part of me wishes that these types of things happened to me.

More than anything though I wish sometimes that my wife found me downright sexy, sexiness equals danger and I’ve always kind of wanted to be thought of as dangerous.

I kind of want to be all of the bad guys that the woman always seem to want. Then I realized something

Corrie’s not with any of the bad guys, she’s with me.

My desire to be wanted, to be seen as dangerous, to be hot, that’s sin. It comes from a demand that no one here on earth can fill.

It comes from a demand of significance. I want to be significant, I want to be remembered, desired, sought after, In a way I am no different than many other people. We all wish to be significant in the eyes of those that are around us. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting this but when it becomes a demand, as it has with me, it becomes sin.

The reason it has become a demand in me is because I don’t feel like I am capable of being any of these things. I’m just me, messed up, broken me. I’m the guy who gains weight too easily, who has a weird lazy eye and crooked feet, who walks with a weird shuffle and has hair sticking up. I’m the messed up dude that gets stains on his shirts from eating and the crooked beard.

But beyond all of this on the outside, the stuff that I see in the mirror that makes me shudder, what I have been working on, where God has been leading me to, is to realize that I am significant, I am important. I’m his kid, his prince, a member of his royal priesthood. I’m significant enough that he sent Jesus to earth to die for me. Significant enough that he gave me a wife to love and take care of, and who would love and take care of me. He has given me a chance to share a love that doesn’t hold it’s values the same way the world does. I don’t have to be ‘hot’ I should be kind, loving, generous, gentle, peaceful and if I give that to Corrie then she will be good to give it all back to me.

So later that night as I teased my wife a bit for telling me I wasn’t hot she explained herself better. She thinks that the idea of someone being hot is a very one dimensional way of describing someone, it’s shallow and simplistic. She doesn’t see me in that way, what she see’s in me is more.

So I’m not hot, we can put that to rest. I am a beautifully awkward peaceful broken prince. I think I can live with that.


For my friend Brent

THis is the eulogy I wrote for my dear friend Brent who left this world on May 5th. I will not be able to attend the funeral but Kristie, our mutual friend, has graciously offered to read my thoughts and memories, this is what she will be reading.


When Kristie asked me to write about some of the memories I have of Brent I knew that this would be both an easy and a hard thing to do. It’s easy because there are a bunch to choose from, mostly involving the good times we had at karaoke shows and just hanging out together. Hard because many of these memories are tied into some of the hardest moments of my life, Brent was always there to see me through back to the good times and now that he is gone and we have to say goodbye I don’t know how I won’t lose my way in life.

Brent was many things, he was my best friend, a stand in brother, a marriage counselor, a side kick, a drinking buddy and, strangely enough, a moral compass. A lot of the memories I have aren’t really suitable for a church but then again, as Brent would agree, neither were the best parts of the bible. The scriptures are full of messed up broken people who God uses in crazy ways to get the gospel shared and our lives today are no exception. Brent was straight up, he lived without pretensions, he didn’t compromise about anything, he called it like he saw it and he was not afraid to tell the truth. In that spirit my memories of him are full of the straight up truth.

I met Brent through a fellow karaoke host named Tommy Young, at first we were acquaintances until one day Tommy was sick and I ended up filling in for him at a bar called Joe Palooka’s. I’m, right in the middle of the show when all of a sudden here comes this rebel rousing bald headed dude with a sleeveless shirt on he made himself, tattoos blazin, ballcap on, you guys can see him standing here as I type this can’t you? “Hey! Where’s Tommy??!!??” “Uhhh….. he’s sick dude” I stammer, not wanting to get my butt kicked. “OK!!” he says as he hands me about 8 slips of karaoke requests. He must have liked the way I ran my shows because it wasn’t long that I would see him at almost everyone. Then one day after the show was over and most of the bar had cleared out I asked him if he wanted to go get some breakfast. He said sure and that was the beginning of our friendship. He sat there and told me the story of some guy he knew that he was really good friends with and how he had died in a car wreck not long ago and how he was supposed to be in the car with him. “God wanted me here I guess” he said.

Brent had poor vision because of his progressing diabetes so he didn’t drive, that was no problem because he lived so close to me, Id swing by, pick him up, we’d go to the show together and he would help me set up. We’d hang and drink all night and then we’d tear down and sometimes we’d go get breakfast. One time my folks invited the two of us to go see a Rockies game and he brought along his handicap sticker That was the moment that he became my parents favorite friend of mine, not that I ever had too many of those.

My favorite memory is my 23rd birthday, a bunch of us were there, all of my favorite people. My brother, Brent, I think he had a girl at the time too. He and my brother signed me up to sing Barbie Girl and I was so drunk I didn’t care I did it anyway. When my brother died several months later Brent was one of the first folks I called. He did what he always did, he made sure that I got out to karaoke and we sang the night away. He was also at the funeral even though he barely knew Mark, he knew I needed support so he was there.

My least favorite memory was the night I threw a stool at him, He needed a ride clear across town and I was so drunk, and hurting, doing everything I could to stay numb, to not care. I said things I didn’t actually mean and threw the stool which he caught. He later told me he forgave me as soon as it left my hands, that was Brent too, he always forgave.

We were both avid wrestling fans and while watching Raw or Nitro if something crazy happened we’d call each other. Of course you’d never be able to tell what we were talking about in those conversations because it would sound like this “DUDE DID YOU JUST SEE THAT???” “DUDE YES!!! AWESOME” “DUDE!!!” “DUUUUUDE?” “DUDE!!” We were eloquent what can I say? The peak of our wrestling fandom happened when we went to Raw together, Brent scored floor seats. Shane McMahon ran right past us and for a slit second we were on live TV with our signs. After that we went to Denny’s like always and Brent told me all about American Idol and how awesome it is, I’m still not a fan but I am glad he liked it so much.

When I got married the first time Brent was my best man, when that marriage fell apart Brent was right there, told me to get my ass over to his house and pick him up to go to a karaoke show He always knew what I needed, the best friends are like that. When I moved to Tucson he and Kristie and Michael Pelshaw threw me a huge going away party. Hell even my parents came and they hate karaoke.

The last time I saw him was 9 years ago this month we went to lunch at Old Chicago and he looked me right in the eyes and he said “This one hurts because it’s like I know you’re never coming back” and he was right. I never saw him again, we’d still talk. He kept me up to date on his blindness, his brushes with death and losing his leg. When he got the new kidney and pancreas we rejoiced. We made jokes about used parts(his idea). When I finally became a Christian again 5years ago he told me he was glad to see I was finally on the right road. I honestly think I always was, God put him in my life to watch after me during my darkest days, to make sure I never strayed too far. Some would say that Brent was always looking for the party but I don’t think that is true. I believe that Brent always knew his time was short, he was not afraid of dying because as he said “I know where I’m going” and he just wanted to milk life for all he could for the time he had. He lived fully. I can see him now in heaven, this rebel rousing bald headed dude with a sleeveless shirt on he made himself, tattoos blazin, ballcap on, strolling up to the pearly gates saying “HOOOO WEEE what a freaking ride!! Where’s the karaoke show?

Mike Wise


It’s hard to be a Christian

5 years ago I started a journey that has led me to where I am, I attend a church at which I also serve on the leadership team. I believe in God, the father, son and spirit, I live and die by Christ’s finished work on the cross, my faith is sure, not from my own effort but because of Christ who has begun a good work in me and has promised to finish it. Having said that though I freely admit to you that it’s hard to be a Christian.

It’s hard to be a Christian because to be a Christian means I have to admit I am not strong enough to fix this, not only my own personal issues but also the greater issues of the world. A few thousand years of human experience has proven that, given to our own devices, we will make things worse rather than better. I’m not different than anyone else. I wallow in the muck, I’ve actually gotten really good at it. It’s must easer to do this than to work to make things better and being a Christian means I believe that God is working to bring this world right again, and I am part of that process no matter how many growing pains I have to endure.

It’s hard to be a Christian because the close I get to Christ the more horrible the sight of my own sin becomes. I’m not getting better, I still fight and struggle with the old dead man that I drag towards the finish line, but the more I study, the more I learn to look to Jesus the more apparent my sins become. I put Jesus on the cross daily with my pride, my anger, my unwillingness to stand for what is right, my lust, my gluttony.

It’s hard to be a Christian because the longer I follow Christ the more my heart feels the sadness that his did. This world is dying, you can hear it’s death rattle if you listen close enough. The more we hate each other, fight each other, kill each other, cheat each other, lust after each other the more we can hear her choke. If you follow Christ you can no longer turn a blind eye to the brokenness of this world. You have to feel, smell, taste, see and hear the final gasping breaths of this world which God so loved.

It’s hard to be a Christian because it’s easier to be drunk. I want to numb out, to shut out the waiting world, to drink in the pleasures of life, to watch TV or state at any number of other screens in my life which provide nothing but endless entertainment. Being a Christian means that I am to remain sober minded, I have to not desensitize, I must feel every blow, I must shoulder the sadness that life heaps on. Without Jesus, without his gift, his grace I’d never be able to do it.

I spent 10 years of my life as an Agnostic, part of me wishes I still was because that life was a lot easier. Sure I was dying but at least I was numb right? But that’s the strangest thing, as much as it hurts to feel what Jesus feels, as horrible as it is to look on my own sin, as hard as it is to admit that I am weak and cannot save myself, as badly as I want to numb out I know I can no longer go back to my tomb

I have been made alive

I have been given peace

I have a new name

I have been granted a real identity

I have invited into a real permanent home.

It is hard to follow Christ, but it is what I have been called to do. I cannot trade the treasure I’ve been given for the security of a life in a closed casket. He promises he will never leave me and I have a lifetime of evidence to prove him right.

I am yours Jesus

Do with me what you will.


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