Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Where I've Been

Hey guys, remember me? It's understandable if you don't. Outside of a couple weeks of Flair posts, I've been largely absent. If you're wondering why that is, please stick around. If you're looking for card scans, try again another day. I've got a lot to get off my chest.

If you have a strong memory then you'll know that I've had a pretty up and down year so far. In May I lost my best friend. In June I lost my unofficial grandmother. In early July I lost my house. If you're a true fan of my whining writing then you'll remember this wacky story from back in March, when I was pulled over for "speeding". I had no idea at the time, but that alleged traffic violation would change my life in terrible ways.

To recap, I was coming home from class one night and was pulled over in a podunk small town. A crooked cop wrote me a ticket for going 13 MPH when I most certainly wasn't.

I decided to exercise my American Rights and fight it in court. That didn't go well at all. It turns out that I wasn't the first pompous citizen to think it was wrong to be charged with a crime I didn't commit. The defense attorney had his trusty spiel ready and explained that I could just pay the ticket or I could fight the courts and end up paying the ticket anyways.

At this point I was pretty upset, but I decided to pay the ticket and get this nightmare out of the way. I drove back to that small town, spoke with the city clerk, wrote her a check, received a receipt and bid them farewell. Or so I thought.

One morning in July I woke up to this:

Minus the guy knocking the door in
I heard knocking, came up the stairs and saw policemen in my backyard. I went outside to see what was going on and was immediately informed they had a warrant for my arrest. I turned around and was guided face first against the wall and handcuffed. Next I was marched around the side of the house, through my front yard and placed in the back of the police SUV.

I had no idea what was going on. They said the warrant was issued by *Podunk Town* for a failure to appear. "Failure to appear for what?" I asked. They didn't know. The warrant was halfway filled out by the *Podunk Town* city clerk and signed by the judge. At this point I was having a full-on mental breakdown. I was 75% sure I was still asleep and that this was a very vivid nightmare. My ticket was paid weeks prior, I received a receipt in person and again in the mail. There was nothing I could do accept go along with the humiliation. Next thing I knew I was in jail. 

After the processing, mugshot and hours of waiting, I was allowed to call family to come bail me out. The hell was only beginning. Words aren't good enough to explain the anger, fear, helplessness and every other feeling that went through me. How do you tell your family that you were arrested for something you didn't do? It's not easy, especially when they don't believe you. How could they though? Have you ever heard of something this backwards? It's like a bad movie. After a few hours of tears and talking, we all realized that this wasn't just a nightmare, it was real life. 

The next day I contacted *Podunk Town* and told them what happened. The "them" I spoke with was the director of city zoning. The city clerk was on vacation. She directed me to the chief of police, who promptly ignored my calls completely. Bureaucracy at its best. I retained a lawyer and fought tooth and nail to find out what in the hell happened. After two weeks I was told that "Whoops, looks like we made a mistake. Sorrrrrryyy bout that." 

Wait, what? After all this all I get is a sorry? As the days went on depression fully enveloped me. I had been humiliated for literally no reason other than a "clerical mistake". There was nothing I could have done to prevent it and nothing I could do to fix it. I could start to tell that I just wasn't myself. My brain had two modes: sadness and anger. At night I stopped sleeping. I would go up to 72 hours without sleep. My brain simply wouldn't calm down. Every ounce of self-confidence and pride was gone. Once I was finally able to sleep, I'd be subject to the most vivid nightmares you could imagine. Nightmares so real and sickening that it took me hours after waking to believe they weren't real. During the day I was afraid to leave the house or talk to anyone. Sirens and cops sent me into uncontrollable flashbacks. 

I needed help. I sought out a therapist and it was the best thing I ever could have done. After a few sessions she diagnosed me with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

It's been over two months since the arrest and I wish I could say I'm all better now, but I'm not. The nightmares are still there, leaving the house scares the hell out of me and my life is in pieces. Meds keep the depression under control and allow me to sleep most nights, but life inside my own head is chaos.

The point of writing this isn't for attention. In fact, I'm scared to have people read this. Four people (outside of my therapist and doctor) know that I have PTSD. Talking about what happened is so incredibly hard for me. Tonight I'm taking a big personal step and telling all of you. I consider you all to be friends, yet the worst thing that can happen from you reading this is that you decide not to read my blog anymore. It's a small step, but it's a big one. Next I need to build the strength to tell the rest of my family and eventually my friends. PTSD doesn't just vanish overnight. Who knows when I'll be able to function semi-normally again. I pray that's soon so that I can put my new MBA and 4.0 GPA to use and get back to being the happy person I used to be. Unfortunately it's not that easy. All I can do is take it day by day. 

If you've stuck with me and read this all, I can't thank you enough. You've joined a select group of people that are helping me get better simply by caring. That means more than you can imagine. Thank you all for reading this post, the 149 that came before it, and the hundreds to come.


  1. Hang in there, better things will happen. I have a family member suffering PTSD after cancer treatment, and every day is an uphill battle, but progress IS happening!

  2. Wow! So sorry you had to go through all that. I think sharing will be a good step. The blog should be a nice release from having to constantly bottle up everything. Keep your head up.

  3. Wow, that's terrible! You're a great guy and it really sucks you had to go through that. Love your blog and good to know the lull probably won't last.

  4. As someone who has dealt with mild to severe depression for 15 odd years now, I'm here for you man. I'm sure everyone else that reads your post is as well. Most people put on an "everything is all hunky dory" facade when they go out in public, but in reality everyone is struggling with something. Talking about it with those that you love and trust can be the hardest thing in the world but once you finally get over that hump it can be the best thing in the world for you.

    Now as far as your ordeal, if it were me I would be considering legal action against the city for wrongful arrest as well as the pain and suffering that it caused. But that is your choice whether you want to go that route.

    In the meantime, hang in there. The community is always here when you need it. =)

    1. Big thanks to you NMC and everyone commenting. Feels really good to see that others understand. I am pursuing legal action and am working with a civil rights lawyer to press charges. I left that out because I don't want people to think I'm just trying to sue. It was a last resort and I'm pushing for a small "open and shut" deal so that the *City of Podunk* learns they can't get away with playing with people's lives.

    2. I'm glad you're doing it. Money doesn't heal wounds but it can show those in power that a simple "Oops...our bad" isn't good enough when they destroy the lives of innocent people.

      And as other commenters have mentioned, keep writing about it when you feel the need. Even if you don't want to talk to your family or friends it can be a huge help to talk with relative strangers too. I used to bottle all of my fear, anger and anxiety up and never let it out for anyone. I'm generally a private person so I was my own worst enemy. I was convinced that I would be embarrassed and ashamed if I talked to anyone about what I was dealing with in my own mind. Maybe they would think I was going crazy or would judge me for being weak. Keeping it all inside lead me down some very dark paths in my mind.

      But as it turns out nearly everyone has gone through a depressive period or two or ten in their life. Whether it was circumstantial or chemical doesn't matter. Everyone can relate. Depression is the illness that makes you think you are completely alone in the world, the only man stranded on the island. When in fact everyone else is there too.

    3. I was going to echo these statements myself (and I know I'm incredibly late to reading this...sorry...). I'm glad to hear you are pursuing your legal remedies. You absolutely need to do that.

  5. Wow, sorry to hear this, hang in there ! Good to have a blog to share, shocking that these things happen...

  6. Man, that is some messed up stuff that Podunk town is trying to pull. Glad to hear that things are improving, hopefully the Royals winning the World Series will help! Seriously though, I live in a military town, and PTSD is no joke. On behalf of myself and the others who might miss this post, we wish you the best.

  7. Anybody who would stop following your blog after this has the real issues. Hang in there dude, and write about it whenever you feel it'll help. Writing is therapeutic.

    All the best man, all the best.

  8. So sorry all that has happened to you. Hang in there and know that you have the support of the blogging community. I know that sometimes it helps a little bit to get things off your chest and feel free to use us for that if it helps. Good luck and all the best.

  9. Counseling and medication are both really good steps. The most helpful thing for me and my PTSD/anxiety/anger problems has been learning coping mechanisms from my therapists to help me shut the negativity down when I run into triggering situations. A lot of it is as easy as just breathing exercises or little self-talk tricks. I would imagine your therapist has/will go over some of them with you. I hope you are able to stick with it and build a solid support system for yourself.

  10. Wow, don't even know where to begin. I'm sorry you've had to go through so much in such a short time. Best of luck. We're all pulling for you.

  11. Wow that is some weird and surreal stuff. Sorry you went through that messed up scene.

  12. Thanks for being open and trusting us. Sending you power and prayer and positive vibes.
    You'll get through this and you won't have to do it alone, as you can see from all the support you're receiving here.
    Hmmm....but the Royals winning the WS??? Hope not, buddy. You know I gotta root for them Dodgers :)

  13. Wow, what a crappy deal and experience altogether. It's your blog, vent all you like. We'll read and be back to read again. The blogosphere is an awesome community and we're not all just about cardboard. You've come to the right place.

    (For the record, I'm hoping for a Royals vs. Pirates matchup in the WS. Go small market teams, go!

  14. Sorry to hear about your experience. At least you have some exciting baseball to look forward to!

  15. Card blog time has been shot down for me significantly lately and wish I would have seen this at the time. As noted above, writing is extremely therapeutic in and of itself. But somehow, a part of the therapy is knowing someone else will read the writing.

    I think anyone who blogs anything is participating in such therapy, even when they are blogging the happiest possible stuff.

    Baseball card blogging is like a double down on this; writing is nice, but we (baseball card collectors) all know that even on a day we can't / won't blog for whatever reason, we always have some baseball cards around to pleasantly pass a little time.

    I'm thinking next week will be one of your better weeks of 2014….