Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World: Seven Years Ago

About seven years ago I was told the truth about how someone close to me had made their money in the world. Before that, I was under the impression that it was through years of hard work and dedication to their craft. It made sense to me for such a long time. Since I was a child I was told that hard work and dedication would pay off. I believed this because that's what you do as a child: you tend to believe what the adults in your life tell you.

Once I learned the truth about how someone close to me earned their way ahead in life, everything changed. I had long wondered why my hard work and dedication to my job hadn't paid off yet. I was still struggling to get groceries. I couldn't afford to buy a proper home for my growing family. I was at the point where things should have been changing, but everything remained the same. My outlook on modern life changed. Gone was the hope that all of this work in libraries would "pay off". Now listen, I always knew I wasn't gonna get rich being a librarian. I never really wanted to get rich. I just wanted to be able to exist. But after this it donned on me that the ability to exist wasn't gonna happen.

In the world we've created, there's always this extra step that people gotta take to make it. You've gotta give up part of your soul, lose your innocence, align yourself with someone who has money, or dabble in things that get you ahead. I decided I wasn't gonna do any of that and here I am now.

I wouldn't change a thing about the life I surround myself with. As a family we're top notch. We've got a connection, we've got a unique life, and we've got love. None of that is worth losing just to get ahead in the world.

At the same time, I'm recognizing in a post anti depressant world that there are hurdles and bumps along the way. Tonight was a big one that can't get out of my head. After visiting a friend this evening we walked home and I had to explain to Finn (age 8) why we couldn't stop along the way to have a drink in a local restaurant. "We don't have any money right now" is something that's really hard to say to your kid. To Finn, it's not just a quick 20 minute stop at a restaurant to have a soda. For him it's an experience and a moment in his childhood. And I couldn't give that to him. I was, and still am at this moment, almost completely devastated over the fact that I couldn't have a $2 soda with my family.

After talking a bit more Finn said, "I wish we were so rich we could get a mansion and not live in this old house". I explained to him that it wasn't that simple, but I couldn't elaborate much more because I was completely spent mentally. I spent the rest of the night partially mute because anything I said came out grumpy and frustrated, further fueling my present state of sadness.

Learning how that someone close to me had made their money in the world did two things for me:

  1. It showed me the path I did not want to take because I did not want to lose all that was good and pure in the world.
  2. It showed me how fake the world that we've constructed around us really is. If you wanna be a part of this world, you've gotta lie and cheat the system.

I know I chose the right path, but goddamnit sometimes I just wish I could get that soda with my family.

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Family, Life, Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World (Hello Once Again, World Full of Feelings and Things)

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I haven’t put any fluoxetine (prozac) in my body in about a month. After the 7-10 days where my body was really feeling the side effects of withdrawl, I thought long and hard about putting any more in my body every 5-7 days and continue this tapered off approach. Did I want to go through those side effects again just so I can fully taper off? Absolutely not. My research told me that “fluoxetine elimination half-life changes from 1 to 3 days, after a single dose, to 4 to 6 days, after long-term use”, so my thought was to halt the need for a second withdrawal after reintroducing fluoxetine to my body once again.

So, I’m here to say that after 8 and a half years of putting this medication into my body that I am done. I am moving onto the next chapter of my life.

What do I think about all of this? There’s a huge part of me that is thankful and understanding of what antidepressants can do for a person. When things are completely overwhelming, antidepressants can help a person stay alive. Staying alive is the thing we should all be doing, as all (or maybe most) of us are here to give something good to the world and others.

On the other hand, there’s a huge part of me that is beginning to see just how antidepressants can mute a person and leave them feeling comfortable with just about anything in life. I’m not saying comfortable isn’t good…we all want to be (and should be) living a comfortable life. But antidepressants are not the same as a comfortable life. They are a medicated and muted life that doesn’t allow the user to see the full picture. There’s a reason why I called the last album of music I made “EITHER WAY I’M FINE”. It is because of this medicine and how no matter what the situation was that was presented to me I could swing either way. When I was on fluoxetine, my head could have been on fire and someone may have told me and I probably wouldn’t have minded it either way.

With all that said, this is what it was like for me. Everyone is different. Don’t read this and think I’m judging you or saying that this is the way. I’m not. I’m just sharing what I’ve felt and what I’m currently feeling.

Life feels a lot better now that I’m off of fluoxetine. Sure, there’s now a world full of feelings and things coming at me at high speed, but I’m ready to face it. I am ready to recognize those things flying at me, give them the proper time and attention to process them in my head and heart, and move forward. I am ready to put the muted life behind me. Fluoextine, you were there for me when I needed you but you stuck around much too long. I’m better off without you. I look up and I see bees hovering around the borage. I can appreciate the little moments a lot more, like the ones where my kids run around the yard barking rules and commands at each other about the imaginary game they’re playing. When I hug Haley, there’s that little swell in my heart that has always been there. I feel it even more so now than ever. I even see and feel the bad in the world: the inequality in our communities, the lies told by those in power to advance personal agendas, and the unnecessary goods and services that corporations sell you to make you feel great about yourself for just a brief moment. These are hard things to feel, but they are necessary to feel, process, and understand.

It took me 7 years into my thirties to get here, but I’m finally here and I like it.

PART ONE and PART TWO in this whole saga

 

Family, Life, Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World: UPDATE ONE

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The First Part: https://justinthelibrarian.com/2017/05/22/goodbye-muted-world/

The main impetus for getting off of antidepressants was my wife Haley. Like me, she too was on antidepressants for some time. While I was on Prozac she was on something that was even more evil and horrible called Effexor (long story short tell your doctor no if they offer this). She got off of her medication earlier this year and the change I saw in her was amazing. She was back to being Haley. Not that she wasn’t Haley when she was on Effexor….it was just a different version of Haley. I started looking inwards and I saw the same thing with myself. I am here…but I am not completely here. Prozac was muting me and I no longer wanted to be muted.

Now I know that antidepressants work differently for everyone and overall do help the individual, but these days all that I’m have been seeing for myself was that it was doing nothing but muting me. To quote the Stone Temple Pilots: I’m half the man I used to be“. I did not want to enter the 37th year of my life not being this way, so I decided to make a change. Here’s how that change has been going:

  • I’m using a tapered approach in removing Prozac from my body. After talking with my doctor, we came up with a plan that looked something like this: every other day for two weeks, every two days for one week, and so on.
  • According to Wikipedia: “fluoxetine elimination half-life changes from 1 to 3 days, after a single dose, to 4 to 6 days, after long-term use”. The worst days in this weaning were somewhere in the area of June 10-17. I was extremely irritable, I fluctuated between being wide awake or very tired, and I had an almost constant headache.
  • After the week of June 10-17, things leveled off quite a bit. I was feeling a good mix of being part Justin pre-2009 and part Justin present-2017 older and wiser. This is a good mix and was something I was going for, but it did take some getting used to. Instead of a muted feeling all the time, I was instead having full on feelings. When you haven’t had those in 8 years, it can be overwhelming at first!
  • Now I am trying to recognize the feelings I am having in the moment and am doing my best to process them. Am I sad? Am I happy? What am I? What can I do in this moment to best show and recognize these feelings?

By August 1 2017 I should be completely free from Prozac. I’ll update everyone shortly after that once I’ve adjusted to life in an unmuted world.

Family, Life, Misc., Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World

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Depression is something that’s been with me for all of my life. I’ve had ups and downs along the way. And this next step I am about to take is just another part of a very long journey.

On June 1, 2017 I will begin weaning myself off of Fluoxetine (Prozac). I have been using Fluoxetine 20mg/day since 2009. Overall it has helped me deal with extreme ups and downs but recently I am beginning to feel that I would like to live my life without its grasp over me. Life on Fluoxetine feels muted most times and I just don’t really want to feel muted anymore.

With all that said, I’m posting this to say that I’ll be completely away from everything starting June 1, 2017. I will go to work and then I will go home. And I will repeat that until I am ready to re-enter the world. This process is going to be tough so I need to focus on myself and nothing else.

Thanks for being in my life and I’ll see all of you sometime soon.

Life, Titusville, PA

The Doom and The Gloom

It’s a rainy and somewhat cold Monday morning here in my town. Fall is here and while the trees are simply gorgeous, the leaves on the ground coupled with the rain and chilly temperatures have created a bit of a soggy mess. I turn to social media only to see what basically seems like the entire world in shock over two characters dying (in a rather graphic and kind of upsetting way) on their favorite TV show. The weekend is back to being 5 days away and the 2 days respite that I just had didn’t really feel relaxing at all. The world of Justin Hoenke seems to be one of doom and gloom at this moment, so here’s a post that attempts to nicely put all of these ideas and thoughts into some cohesive statement that’ll hopefully help me sort things out.

I’m in the “it’s not worth it” mood at this moment. I wake up every day and try to be a positive force for the world, be it through libraries, community events, or just in day-to-day situations. Is it working? I don’t know. I see a world full of issues that don’t seem to be resolvable. I think what makes me the most sad is that the issues that we’re debating and fighting over are in fact easily solvable and that our time focused on them are what is really holding back humans from reaching their fullest potential. We’re wasting so much time on things that we can fix!

I think about my long term health in the middle of all of this. I want to give my best to my work so that I can make a difference, but at what cost? I don’t want to die at age 65 just because I wanted to make a difference in the world. I just had a conversation with a community member who has been thinking about the same thing. She said “I want to be old, sit on my back porch, and hang out and enjoy the world.” I want that too. But is that life possible for those that have a drive to do something great? I don’t know. I don’t understand how to shut that part of me off.

I don’t enjoy myself in the moment much these days. I feel irritable and cranky. I want to surround myself with the people that I love the most but at the same time I want to run away from them so that I don’t cause them any grief or pain. Taking Justin out of the picture would, in my opinion, cut out any chance of negativity in their lives.

Right now I believe that it’s a lost week for working towards something positive. Maybe next week will be better. Maybe not. Everything’s kind of on hold until November 8 passes, eh?

Life, Three Things

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I̢̠͔̼͇͓̅̍ͥͅ ̲̬̺̝͍͔̲̯̊́ͅą͚̖͔̗̲̞͆ͬ̑ṁ̷̺̯̖̺̭̪͙̮̟ͦ̅̋̀ ͓̘̃͑̾͌ͯ͊͟n̝̩͖̋ͭͭ͑͋̐͛ͩ͟ó̱̣͢ͅt̷͕͓̰͖ͯ̋͋̅ ̯̹̙̻̣̥̭̾̕ș̠̬̞͕͇ͯ̈́ͨ́͠ụ̵̱̫̤͕̎̌̔ͮͨͣ̈͡r̶̳̣͍̱͈̪̗̳̿ͫͦe͚̰͓͌̒ͤͣ͟

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A glitch is a beautiful thing. I look at glitches and I feel like I am looking at my life. It is something that happened but at the same time may not have happened if things were just a little bit different. I am a glitch and I am OK with that. You are a glitch as well. We are all glitches. This whole damn thing is a glitch. This is alright.

WINTER BLUES
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My Dad calls it the winter blues. I call it depression and I think everyone else in my generation does as well. I think there is a big gap in how generations view depression.

Am I in the middle of “the winter blues” right now? Yes! This year feels different, as it is nowhere near as bad as it has been in the past.

Most of us are probably in the middle of this right now as well. Just know this: there’s a world of amazing people out there that are here for you.

BREATHE
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I owe the library world that still reads this blog a proper post about my experience in collection management at my new place of work. I’ll get there, I promise.

We’ve been in the thick of it for pretty much 9 months now and we’re making progress. The space is able to breathe. We have a smaller collection but it is easier to browse. The library looks like it exists in the modern world a bit more. It looks like less of a warehouse. I like this. I believe in the work that we’re doing and know that in the long run it will improve the health of this very wonderful organization.

Libraries, Library Director, Life, Management

Work Environments, Happiness, and Human Beings

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Two really great articles about work environments and employee happiness came out this weekend, both via the NY Times:

When You’re in Charge, Your Whisper May Feel Like a Shout

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

I liked these articles a lot as it really jives well with what I’ve been thinking these past few months: leadership sets the tone of the workplace, and that tone is KEY to the success or failure of the organization. Success and failure are very loose terms and ideas that have varying definitions, but to me success means that you have happy employees and happy library users that have positive experiences in the library. Failure, in my opinion, are library employees and users that are generally unhappy to be in the library.

These articles also make me think about how I say things and what I say to my employees. I think openness and honesty are two great practices to put in place. Talk about what’s going on behind the scenes and how board meetings are going. Talk about grants, budgets, and more. Be open and be honest. Don’t paint a horrible picture of doom and gloom even if things are tough in the moment. We work in libraries, and what a great place they are to work at! We let people borrow things! We share things with our community! It is a great job.

I don’t believe in the whole “competition leads to great innovations” idea fully. Yes, I think competition does lead to innovation but I think it also leads to employee unhappiness and burnout. That is something that I think should be the focus of our conversations. People and their lives and happiness are much more important than innovation. Humans adapt to so much. Sometimes that change takes awhile but we always get to where we are going. Unhappiness and depression caused by stress can have lasting and devastating effects. Depression is a horrible thing that no one should have to experience, especially depression that is caused by a work environment.

You are not your job. You are an awesome human being.