I affectionately named this post after Dostoevsky's first published work. It feels appropriate since I feel like I'm emerging from a deep hole and coming back into the world I used to know.

I started this Individuation Blog series to chronicle my emerging into a higher consciousness. To display through trials and challenges an escape from ideological possession. To become a better version of myself. 2018 started as a bright beacon of hope and became a descent into a personal hell.

In early March I started to notice that it was becoming difficult to turn my head. Day by day the discomfort started to resemble pain. It was at the beginning of April that I noticed the lump. When I looked in the mirror and lifted my head, I could feel it with my hand. When my head was neutral the lump was completely unnoticeable.

I told my wife right away. Both of our hearts broke. My rodeo with this tumor was more than just an inconvenience. It was a financial burden and a strain on our family. The tests, the copays, the doctor's visits. I try my best to stay healthy but what can I do about a bunch of renegade cells dividing like crazy in my neck?

I jumped on the issue right away. I scheduled visits to my primary care physician, dealt with insurance, met with my ENT that operated on the tumor the first time and got my MRI. The ENT referred me out to another doctor at Keck hospital at USC. This was the same hospital I went to in 2015 after my bike accident. I liked this hospital and I felt very comfortable with my Otolaryngologist.

Pretty graphic content, btw.

Pretty graphic content, btw.

On June 5 the surgeon removed a mass from my neck the size of an orange. They split me open from ear to mid-neck to remove all of it and cut down one of my neck muscles to a sliver. I had trouble supporting my neck muscularly but I was in surprisingly little pain. I was out of the hospital in two days and spent the next week recovering.

It was not lost on me that my scar resembled a noose around my neck marking the halfway point of my life.

I am a tough individual. Despite my grit, this latest episode would have done me in if I didn't have a support system like my family and friends. Despite my fortunate circumstances this whole episode was a terrible disappointment to me which threw all my plans for 2018 into complete collapse.

The structures I had set up for myself fell apart. I gained weight, stopped reading and gave up meditating. I was driven to distraction. The doctor said that I couldn't do any weight lifting for six months. My goals fell by the wayside and I felt at times, completely hopeless. 

This is a confession. I don't like to burden people with my troubles. I am finally admitting my suffering to myself. This is difficult to confront and I have thus been silent on my blog and on my podcast. I honestly haven't felt the desire to turn outward and have instead turned inward. What this does to me is not healthy. I build up thoughts and ideas and I do not act upon them, so they collect in my mind like psychological gunk.

I'm tired of it and it ends now.

I have tried to start running again but this summer heat has been brutal. I have tried sticking to a good diet but I have not been consistent. I checked books I really wanted to read out from the library but just let them sit there unread until they have to be returned. My mind is prone to distraction and I have been reactive in my actions rather than thoughtful and conscientious. I am a mess.

The one good thing is that I have returned to music and I am very happy with where I'm at as a player. I have taken on new challenges and I feel like my playing has reached a maturity that it never had before. I'm grateful for that.

My boys are amazing. Ethan lights up my life and I'm so proud of the person Julian is becoming. My wife is a saint for putting up with me. My parents have been amazing through all of this and my closest friends have been a rock-solid support to me.

All in all, I could be in a much worse place. In a few days, it will be August and I will have pissed away 8 months of 2018. There is good news, however. I have been here before and I know what to do.

sisyphus_.png

I am suffering. Life is suffering, but I refuse to suffer stupidly.

I am here to engage in an endeavor that makes the suffering worth it.

With my remaining time here, it's what I intend to do. I will not give up. I will keep pushing.

I write in solidarity with all of you suffering in silence out there. You are not alone. Setbacks and trouble are inherent to human existence. If you've lost your way, reach out. Chances are there is someone you can talk to who is going through difficult times as well.

I don't know what I would do if I was prone to depression. I can say that the last few months might be the closest thing to depression that I have ever dealt with. I know people who deal with serious depression and it is an unrelenting beast. If you do struggle with depression, please seek help from a qualified professional.

The last few weeks have been the most normal I have felt in a long time. I'm not 100% and I honestly have good days and bad days but the overall trend is positive. I thank my lucky stars that that's the case.

Now that I've cleaned the slate, I feel ready to express myself more here and on the podcast. Look for more content soon. Love and light.

-Phil

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