Marketing, Design, Writing & More

A Personal Confession to My Audience

Diagnosed with FibromyalgiaI wanted to share something for those that read my content, listen to the podcasts, or watch my videos on YouTube. I haven’t really shared this in detail before yesterday on my Facebook page, and have gone back and forth on how public I want to be. When connecting with people that I haven’t communicated with in a long time it becomes awkward to reconnect because they think I have no interest in them, forgot about them, or something else that is negative. This couldn’t be further from reality. How the world sees me is different than reality. Often, I am quiet, not tweeting, or podcasting…etc, because I can’t. I used to be the center of attention, comically funny, out-going, driven for success, and so much more.

I haven’t podcasted in about 15 months at the time of publishing this post and makes it look like I pod-faded. As for writing, I haven’t written since April I believe, which is over 90 days. I published a new post yesterday so I could break the cycle. I want to produce video so bad that I bought 2 GoPro Hero 4 Black editions with everything I need over the last couple months. The last thing I need to do is solder the LED’s I bought together to make sure I have good lighting. My point is that everything is in place for me to create media, but I haven’t used it yet and I have to find the energy to create again.

Here is the reason I have changed so much. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (fibro for short) almost 3 years ago along with some other issues. Right this minute I feel exhausted after sleeping 8-9 hours, grabbed a hot shower, took my medicine, and I have a full cup of tea. I am pushing to publish this in a few hours if possible so I can share this with anyone wanting to read about it. No more hesitation or procrastinating if I can help it. At 2-3PM I know I will be wiped out and it’s the day that I stop doing anything.

If you don’t know about or haven’t heard about fibro before let me give you a quick run through it. It happens mostly to women, and only about 10% of people who have it are men. It turns the pain receptors on even when there is no pain. You feel pain everywhere regardless if your body is in great shape or not. It’s one of the mental illnesses that we don’t fully understand or are able to cure. It’s usually the last diagnosis after finding no other reason for the symptoms.

I would go 2-3 days without sleep, and instead, pacing the floors all night because I was at an 8 or 9 out of 10 on the pain scale. I am talking about pain that was excruciating to endure. The doctor gave me every narcotic to see if this just worked itself out. I ended up on Morphine Sulfate before I got sent to see a specialist. The military doctor was good to me and tried his best given the criteria he had to work in. They couldn’t figure out what was causing all of this pain, and I could barely work, sleep, or function normally in the least. No one at work knew except the 4 people that worked close with me.

I would lay in bed with pain even after taking the painkillers, stretching my joints, use the heat pad, walking, and any other activity I could muster. I watched YouTube videos trying to find answers. One video encouraged taking vitamin D supplements and I immediately rushed to the store. It helped a little at least. In the end, the biggest thing I learned is that there is no cure for fibro. You can only manage it.

The Potential Causes

There are lots of things that can cause fibro to happen. Some things that trigger this are a trauma, long periods of stress, a surgery, infection or other documented factors. I can’t point to the “thing” that gave me this, but I can discuss the years that may have resulted in this happening. In 2012-2013 the stage was set for my toughest years serving on active duty overseas.

The first major event was the email that notified me that the business, U.S. Challenge Coins, LLC, I had started in 2007 had folded. My business partner and eventually the head of the company informed me in January, 2012 that everything was gone. Bank account frozen, factories refusing to produce orders, and all but eBay, Amazon, and PayPal was gone. I jump into high gear and wrote an apology for the front page of the site and started tracking down issues and unfilled orders. This was after 5 days of arriving and we are all still in a hotel room.

I will go out of my way to resolve issues and especially when money is involved. I didn’t screw anyone over, but I was the face of the company that people knew so I tried fixing it and making good on everything. I fixed as much as I could. I pulled all the resources I could together and solved as many orders as possible and then I had to give away everything left to those that helped. This was my first big company and my biggest achievement. It was now gone with little explanation. I was in Korea and could only use the phone and email to do everything. My first major company was mismanaged and taken down in a very public way. This one event had spiraled me into a mild depression for the next 12-24 months. This incident alone will be one of my first books published after my retirement.

In addition to losing my company, my then business partner was living in my house. So when the company folded and he ran, my house stood empty and damaged. Utility bills unpaid for months as well. I was about to lose my house. I paid a general contractor to repair everything and then tried selling it with no one biting even though I had priced the house at $20K lower than what I paid for it in 2004. Circumstances forced my hand and I gave it back to the bank. This is when all my savings were depleted in trying to keep everything alive and selling. My pockets were now empty.

Second event on the list was the 6am phone call from my dad. He was crying on the phone telling me he was in the hospital with one week to live. I got on the first plane to Boston, but I had some layovers which made the 20-hour trip a 30-hr one. Finally, arriving at Logan International Airport, my brother Andy picked me up and we headed to the hospital. I spent two weeks in July 2012 to be with my father before he passed with stage 4 cancer at the age of 56.

Luckily, he was able to get hospice and live for another 6 months. The loss was devastating and knowing that the normal 2-5 calls per week to talk and the visits back home with the family all coming to an end had crushed me. Living for 6 more months was at least something, but he was a shell of himself with the meds taking everything. Being one of the first and few Rhode Island medical marijuana patients gave him relief. He finally passed after spending the day with my brother working on the car. He was tired and went into the house and sat in his recliner. My younger brother watched him die and I didn’t fly home to be there. I apologized to my brother several times and I knew he took a huge punch in the chest too. We were all very close, but the patriarch has moved on.

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

This next major event is what I believe triggered my entire mental health collapse. I was promoted to a bigger job in November, 2012 that I had wanted since 2009. I turned around the flight of 40 from losing to winning awards, fixing things that were 2-3 years listed as broken, and so much more. My flight had amazing morale and we were proud of what had been accomplished. Many leaders shook my hand and told me that we did well after exercises and hoped that it would continue in that path. This was what I had waited so long to do and it was finally my turn!

As I was getting settled into that position, my dad passed on December 3, 2012. He was my BFF and it’s hard to write this right now without crying even years later. I stayed in South Korea and didn’t go home because my step-mom told me to stay as there was nothing I could do. Instead I focused on building our team. I continued working hard to make sure everyone was taken care of. Always on-time, always ready, and always leading. This is my point of view though. I can’t tell you anyone else’s that I worked for since they never told me anything and stopped talking to me.

Only 8 months later I was fired because I wasn’t mean enough to the people who worked for me and I wasn’t a “yes man” for those I work for. I called our leader out on everything that was a waste, had no reason to be given attention to, or was completely ridiculous during meetings. Well, I must have done something that made my boss so mad that she got the commander to tell my captain to reprimand me for anything. I have no idea how it went down because it was all behind my back. Being fired for the first time ever triggered an extremely hostile work environment like I have never seen in 20 years of serving in the Air Force. Some of my peers complained to the higher leadership but all calls for help went unheard. We squash whistle blowers better than most government agencies in the Air Force. During this period it was done swiftly and the morale fell to record lows for several years after.

My boss traveled to Bali for a week only to come back and be ordered by the commander to reprimand me for something. I didn’t see this coming either. For weeks they gave me the cold shoulder, not talking to me and I had no idea what was to come. I even sat next to my boss for weeks without talking unless we had to. He sat only 5 feet from me with all of the cards in his hand and didn’t give me the decency that I always gave him. I was always transparent and covered for him. He didn’t like what he was told to do, and I understand why, but I just expected better from him. (he apologized to me after 18 months before he left to a new assignment)

So they made up something I did wrong. Some story that couldn’t have been further than the truth. Given the reprimand, I wrote a rebuttal with a 4-page tutorial on progressive discipline since I knew this would really push the right buttons for those that ordered this. It did exactly what I thought it would. They shredded the first reprimand and presented me with a different infraction. This time I just signed it without another rebuttal because I knew it would cause something far worse. The next day they gave me my firing papers you could say. I packed everything on my desk and shuffled off to my new office.

Note: I will upload those documents after I retire.

I knew that the highest enlisted person had ordered my punishment and move. One week earlier I had asked her if I could change my job and become the installation Career Assistant Adviser which helps Airmen make choices about their career. The main requirement was that an applicant couldn’t have any administrative actions within the 6-months prior to applying. Now I had my administrative paperwork and became ineligible. This is how I knew who did what in this case. I learned this piece later on.

Four others were fired as well, but none received paperwork. The situation was over and I witnessed one of the most morale destroying leadership team ever. Our new mission was to sit there and do nothing until otherwise noted. That was a period where we all sat there and told each other stories, Facebooked, spent time on Reddit sharing links and anything else that we could do for about 12-18 months.

To bear 18-months of hostility from leaders at any opportunity they could and being unsure which day is going to be the one that they take your career was a tremendous weight for all of us to carry. Everyone was rated as low as possible on reports, and I was as well which ended any hope of future promotion. I was also offered up to any unit on installation needing my skills without my knowledge. My boss hated me, but always put on a smile to talk with me so I couldn’t see her intentions. When she left Korea, she had taken the careers of myself and 4 others along with her departure. Her going away was small with very little gifts or speeches. I did not attend. The commanders was the same. He received almost nothing in comparison to previous and future commanders. I learned so much from them, but it’s all negative. While still serving, they are still ending careers and hurting the force somewhere. I will be the only one to address what was referred to as the “May Massacre” in my final unit I serve in in a book I will release after becoming a mister again.

I will leave this section by saying that my writing is top-notch. This includes military writing and civilian style such as blogging. I write award packages that are so far above any of my peers that I teach senior leadership how to win awards. This is my strongest talent and I brag because I have won enough to back up my claim. During the 18+ months I sat in a room with no job, I continued to write for other leaders inside and outside the unit. I won dozens of awards for the squadrons and the people in them. I would go to award ceremonies and watch other units win because I wrote the packages. My leadership sat their rarely hearing our name.

During any award period that they decided they didn’t like me and refused to let me write award packages for they lost at least 90% of the time. It was embarrassing for them. The leadership was visibly upset because their hopes were to send a “fuck you Adam, we don’t need you to win”. In the end they did need me. I take pride in this skill and it’s not much to brag about, but I love seeing people rewarded for their hard work and it’s the only reason I spent my time writing for them.

The Prescription & Side Affects

The fibro has affected me in a very negative way like I never expected. I am currently prescribed 300mg/day which is 150mg in the morning and the other at night. Lyrica is used to manage the pain. My side affects are memory loss, hunger, little sex drive, depression, long periods of not wanting to do things and most of all my emotions and personality have disappeared. I have nothing funny to say and I stay home as much as possible. I quit using tobacco cold turkey after 17 years in 2013, and stopped drinking almost 4 years ago now as well. Hold your celebration clap because I have also stopped going to parties, spending time with friends and a list of other positive things that I used to do.

I have tried taking less Lyrica but it brings the pain back and I can’t sleep for days because of the pain. Before being diagnosed I was on Morphine Sulfate and had to go to the emergency room 8 times in a span of 3 weeks. They didn’t understand my condition yet and treated me as if I was seeking drugs or attention. Finally, after 5 months the Air Force doctor sent me to a rheumatologist in the local community. The specialist helped me a lot, but it came at a cost.

I had also been sent to the orthopedic doctor for my neck and shoulder pain. They did x-rays and found that my neck is straight and it should be curved. Coupled with fibro, chronic neck sprain, severe sleep apnea, and aggravated ADHD to mention a few led my to take about 20 pills daily and wear a pain patch 5-6 days per week. That gets me to a 1-2 on the pain scale. Between all of these issues I forget what day it is, have difficulty waking up early, saying something funny, or wanting to play in the park with my kids. These pills have devastated my life and those that are close to me. To outsiders that have never heard of this you will not understand. You can’t possibly comprehend the side effects of the medication, or how folks treat you at work. With this, I will struggle to work a normal job again in my life. I can barely tolerate going to work on time, and sitting at my desk for hours. It’s why I created an LLC in March and I will try my best to make do with freelance work. If that doesn’t work then so be it as well.

It now takes about 8 times longer for me to write a post because of spelling, missed words, or sentences that I mixed up. My brain isn’t working. I am hesitant to do anything live because I fear that I will look ridiculous. Podcasting? Nope, too much editing and I forget things too much. Video, maybe, because it’s short and I can edit a lot.

My Message To You

This isn’t a post to apologize for being MIA a lot. I want to share something personal and why I have been missing from Blab, Twitter, FB, my own blog and more. The only alternative I have besides Lyrica is illegal around the world and I couldn’t use it because of my job. So this is my only option. No option but to be in my “own world” day after day. Big Pharma has me and it’s depressing as I had mentioned before. I forget to add this, but I am not the person that cries for help or plan on hurting myself or anyone else. My family is amazingly supportive and I am glad to have them.

This post took me about 5 hours to write. It used to take maybe just over an hour. So many letters or words are missing when I re-read my sentences. If I have over-shared then so be it. At least it’s accurate from my point of view. So this is the detailed post that explains where Adam is and why so little content. Depression, anxiety, and fibro is a bitch to live with. If there are spelling mistakes or grammar issues please forgive me. I edited this about 6 times to correct everything.

If you suffer from this please let me know. I would love to hear from others about how they get through their day. I don’t usually remember how I get through my day….

One last thing I should say. Thank you to so many that have been my strongest advocates such as George, Mike, Michael, Justin, Pat, Bruce, and others. If I forgot to put your name on this list, please accept my apologies.

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