Week 5 Update

In keeping with my pursuit of deeper conversations and connections with friends (and future friends), here is an update on my week, the intimate and mundane. If you’d like to start a conversation with me using this post as a prompt, or really using anything you want as a prompt, please email me at pjneiger@gmail.com . Or, if you’d like to send me an anonymous message or question to respond to you can message me at pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH. I won’t really be checking Facebook or other social media networks consistently.

March started off pretty well for me. My partner and I went over to a friend’s house last week for wine and snacks and had an incredibly good time. Making friends for two introverts like us can be tough in a new city and I finally start to feel like we have some friendships blossoming. Even when we meet people it seems difficult to get out there and do things. Life gets busy and we don’t feel like doing much more than Netflix at night, or we do things but they are kind of spontaneous and I feel awkward randomly inviting people at the last minute (I’m getting over this, though). Regardless, the friendships are developing and I hope more nights like last Thursday will happen soon. It was really the first time that we’ve found people who were not judgmental about some of the, umm, less conventional parts of our lives. Basically, it was the first time I felt like I could discuss my drug use in a place where people understood, had similar experiences, and possibly still enjoyed the occasional roll (nobody else admitted to doing it semi-regularly like me but it seemed possible other MDMA users were in the house). I’m trying to make a much more conscious effort to reach out to people and create opportunities to hang out.

On Friday, our favorite bottle shop, “Hey! Beer” had their third anniversary and it was a madhouse. There were so many people there that we couldn’t really enjoy a board game and stuff like we (somewhat) planned. I am really happy for the owners though, our favorite place has really grown in popularity over the last year, but the chill atmosphere we love about it isn’t really present during big events. I’ll always still go out and support them but my expectations are shifting.

My weekend was mostly filled with catching up on work. A deadline was pushed up a bit and I had to focus on finishing a project. Not an ideal weekend, but it didn’t take too long.

The big highlight from this week (so far) was seeing a therapist for the first time in a long time. I met with a psychologist and discussed my nutrition, the stuff I’m struggling with, goals and such. After hearing about the things I was struggling with we came up with a CBT plan, he gave me some books to read, and then he referred me to a psychiatrist to see if medication might help me during the weeks before CBT can take hold. The psychiatrist asked me some similar questions and then came up with a medication plan (Wellbutrin) that he thinks will help. We are going to reevaluate in a few weeks. I’m on my fourth day with Wellbutrin and it has been a really solid week, I feel good and productive but part of me wonders if that might be a placebo effect. So far, no real side effects except a slightly diminished appetite and a higher sex drive.

One thing that really stood out to me about this whole experience was how focused they were on my diet and exercise. They really wanted to make sure I was getting the nutrition I needed and plenty of outdoor time first before turning to any medication. It was actually reassuring and nothing like the “just drug them up” mentality that I thought a lot of psychiatrists had. Actually, after some research and talking with my psychologist, it really sounds like general practitioners prescribing psychiatric medicines are the ones who are doing it improperly, not mental health professionals.

On Tuesday I went and got a massage from an amazing massage therapist in town. I met her through a friend and she really knew how to work the muscles that were tight and aching. 10/10 Will be back soon.

I haven’t really created any writing this week (except for the daily blog posts below), but I did get a fair amount of reading done.

Books Completed:
“Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth about Reality” by Brad Warner
“Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca” by Dr. Richard Miller

Currently Reading:
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling
“Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport
“The Batterer: A Psychological Profile” by Donald Dutton
“Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World” by Robin Ochs


This week has been a really good one for my fitness. I’ve had a great session with my trainer, went to Outside the Box Fitness on Tuesday, they gym yesterday, and biked, rucked almost every day. I’m really starting to notice progress in my appearance (though, I’m not sure if the pictures are showing it). I’m happy with how things are looking into “More Muscle March” and I think I’ll be near my next weight milestone by mid-April. Oh, I actually hit my first weight milestone this week when the scale was in the 160’s for the first time in nearly a year. Yay!






So, here is what my next week looks like so far:

  • Physical therapist appointment today
  • Work on and complete a new work assignment that I’m actually pretty excited about
  • Anna’s going to be basically away for the whole week with work
  • I want to check out the Unitarian Church on Sunday
  • Normal workout stuff: personal trainer on Monday, gym 2-3 other times, get outside daily for running/rucking/cycling
  • Dental appointment on Monday
  • Zen meditation group on Tuesday that I want to check out
  • Hope to finish two more books


Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”


Invincibility – Revisited

Today’s “Daily Stoic” reading and associated journal prompt involve one of Epictetus’ most popular pieces of writing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important or a bit profound:

Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice. – “Discourses”, 1.18.21

Two short sentences.

A question and an answer.

So much to digest and ponder over. (In fact, I did a blog post about this subject a year ago…)

First off, is invincibility even truly attainable? Or is it some sort of religious/spiritual/philosophical ideal that should be pursued with full knowledge that it will never be attained? Is it an end goal, or a horizon like Buddhahood or Christlike perfection?

I see it as the latter. Something to desire, to strive for, to put into our daily practice but realizing that we will never be invincible and that we will be upset by things outside of our reasoned choice.

I have two reasons for seeing it this way. First, Epictetus seems to treat invincibility as part of a binary. Either you are invincible or you are vincible not invincible. But that doesn’t seem to be the case in the real world. Control over your emotions exists on a spectrum, it isn’t “yes, I’m in control” or “no, I’m not in control”, it is “I am more (or less) in control now than in the past”. Controlling our emotions involves practice and building the mental muscles necessary to handle the challenges, and the challenges are infinite.

Second, to see invincibility as attainable is to see the possibility of becoming THE PERFECT STOIC. But perfection in this sense can’t exist. Our minds are a combination of genetics, free will (maybe), and reactions to our environment. We can’t control two of those and free will may not really be a thing. I think this is one of the weaknesses of Stoicism (at least as an attainable ideal), it doesn’t recognize that there is more to our mental processes than just being strong and using our rational mind. Mental health issues are real and they distort these processes, some people can’t just use their rationality to overcome their emotions. Trauma, chemical differences, and a plethora of known and unknown processes shape how we respond to the world around us. We are more than just reason.

But, I still think it is something to shoot for. There is great joy in pursuing something that you’ll never attain, struggling just to struggle, pushing to see how far you can get before this moist meat-suit that we call a body decides to return to the dust from which it came. At least it is to me.

Day 3 Update of “Operation: Shut Off Facebook and Become Who You Want to Become”

Yesterday was my first real weekend and it went really well. I went to the gym, got my 10,000 steps in, read, meditated, did some coding, practiced yoga, and kept my calorie consumption where it should be. I even went out for a friend’s birthday party and stuck to my diet… and I didn’t even drink alcohol! I actually had a really good time, I’m not sure why but I felt more open, personable, and interested than I normally do in social situations where I don’t really know anyone. It certainly helped that Anna was there, that I sat next to our friend, and that two of the people next to us were SUPER talkative and friendly. Sometimes extroverts can be overwhelming to me, but these people were good conversationalists and asked us real questions. We chatted about world travel, the military (he was a vet), and drug use very openly. I think it helped that I didn’t have booze or Facebook to retreat into.

So, it was a good day. I didn’t lose any weight (but that’s not surprising given the 7 lb drop on Friday) but the weekend was productive and off to a good start. I have reasonable goals for today (several of which I’ve already accomplished) and my partner and I are heading down to the Dirty Myrtle tonight to make the most out of a quick work trip I have down there on Monday.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”