I get excited just saying it: DavidHeitz.com.
DavidHeitz.com. DavidHeitz.com. DavidHeitz.com
Not even five years ago would I even have dreamed that one day I would have my own website bearing my own name — my very own brand, if you will.
For starters, I never would have guessed I would even get the domain DavidHeitz.com. There is another journalist named David Heitz (and we are even the same age, both with dark hair) right down the road, in Chicago. There’s a famous David Heitz winemaker in Napa Valley. There’s a big real estate agent named David Heitz in California, too.
But there’s only ONE DavidHeitz.com! And I’m thrilled it’s me.
So why did I purchase the domain and the software to create my own site and my own blog? Well, the short answer is, I’m writing a book, due out next year. Every author needs to have a website and a social media following. The working title for my book is “Sober Caregiver, Solitary Confinement.” It not only works literally, but figuratively too. On many levels.
The social media part I’ve been working on for about two and a half years now. Today, between David Heitz Health on Facebook, @DavidHeitz on Twitter, plus LinkedIn, Google Plus, and a tiny presence on Pinterest, I have more than 7,000 followers. And it’s growing pretty fast.
I admit it now — I have a story worth telling
When people talk about writing, so much focus is placed on the craft of writing. No doubt, that is very important. But in this age where, let’s face it, anyone can be a publisher, I think what you have to say is even more important than how you say it.
So who am I? Well, a guy who was an alcoholic and/or drug addict (always one or the other when not both) for about 30 years. I grew up in a violent home. I lost my mother to breast cancer at age 24 after she had divorced my dad the second time.
I found out in my early 30s that dad had Alzheimer’s disease, which turned out to be a misdiagnosis. A few years back, we learned it in fact was a very rare brain disease called behavioral-variant frontotemporal degeneration. You can read all about that by clicking here. Essentially it causes people to be very mean, and otherwise behave outrageously. Toward the very end their mind disintegrates to the point where they lose control of bodily functions, the ability to walk, talk, and swallow. And then they die.
So I got sober two and a half years ago when dad went into a memory care facility. I knew I had to or I was going to die. Like so many families that go through this disease, ours fell apart. Nobody cared about my dad except for me, and I cared about him very deeply. I demanded quality care and respect from the people who were paid outrageous sums of money to make sure he was safe and I dropped in quite often to make sure they were doing just that. I wasn’t always nice when I felt he (or myself) were being treated poorly.
Even as a teen, my friends used to say, “You need to write a book about your crazy family.” I always said, “Oh, my life is not that interesting.”
Famous last words.
Jailed for reporting an intruder at dad’s facility
I even went to jail, stripped naked, held on no charges at all, for two days, for raising my voice at dad’s memory care facility. You can read all about that by clicking here. There’s a whole lot more to that story that I never have told (other than to authorities), and it will all be in the book.
I became very sick inside the jail and truly thought they were going to kill me, or that I was going to die from a heart attack based on what was happening to me in there.
When they did finally let me out, I spent two nights in the hospital. I learned some chilling things about my community. Things that, in truth, I had heard about for many years as a reporter and editor for local news organizations. But never did I think I would get an up close and personal experience with it. Maybe they wanted a reporter in there to see what was going on for himself. Who knows. It was wild stuff, no doubt about that.
I have written about all of these things piecemeal in various columns for Healthline Contributors, Caregiver Relief, and LinkedIn Pulse. I wrote hard news stories for two years as a reporter for Healthline.com, the fastest growing health website in America. I’ve written about addiction and recovery, caregiving and elder advocacy, and many other health topics, namely HIV and Hepatitis C.
While I do not have HIV or Hepatitis C, in many ways, it was that reporting that served as my bread and butter when it came to paying the bills and my re-entry into the world of writing (and working, for that matter). I’ve gotten away from HIV reporting the past several months, and I may explain why in a future column. More importantly, I plan on bringing back my HIV reporting soon — today, in fact. Check out my other blog post for breaking news today that will be of great interest to long-term survivors of HIV.
In fact, I pounded out this introductory column about my blog and my new website — even though the website isn’t exactly how I want it yet (I have no idea what a widget is, for example) because of that exciting HIV news. Expect my HIV reporting from here on out to be limited to stories regarding long-term survivors, a cure, and a vaccine. The other stuff I’m not even going to touch anymore.
Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
I do suffer from some personal health issues. Many years ago I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. In fact, I was a drug addict. Mixing the bipolar drugs with illegal drugs and booze no doubt did plenty of damage, and I went through bouts of depression where I would cry and not get off the couch for months at a time.
When I got off the bipolar medication things began to turn around, yet the hard drinking did not stop, even though I had quit using drugs and quit hanging out with the bar and drug crowd. Boozing it up by myself, at home alone, I knew then that indeed I was an alcoholic. I could not get to sleep otherwise, the anxiety associated with caring for dad and fighting with my family was so bad.
When I was violently assaulted by someone I knew, that was my “rock bottom.” I stopped drinking and by the grace of God hope I never take another sip. Things have been on the upswing ever since.
But I do live with PTSD, not only from that violent attack more than two years ago, but also from being taken to jail last year (almost exactly to the anniversary date of the assault). I also endured mental abuse inside the jail, and just the sheer disappointment of knowing our community runs a jail like that probably will forever linger.
But things are improving for me every day, and I have found that the best way to take care of myself is to completely isolate myself from the people of my past, including my own family. I have been told I should move out of this town, but I don’t want to do that. I enjoy living in my childhood home, which I now own, and I have made the decision to stay put.
So, what can you expect from this blog? Well, hopefully a lot of positive things. I recently began to write about travel (and plan to do some traveling myself soon), pets, eating out, and hopefully soon, home improvement. I mostly pay the bills writing branded content related to addiction/recovery and home care for seniors and people with disabilities. Those stories will continue to appear on my Facebook page, David Heitz Health. Be sure to like my page if you have not already!
So I have lots of great things happening in my life and am a very blessed man. I’m so excited to launch this new chapter — DavidHeitz.com — and hope you will continue to follow my work, as well as my path to finding happiness again.
All the best,