Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bummer revelations.

Came across this in an old e-mail exchange with a friend, dated 2010:
‎I guess the younger version of me assumed that life would eventually get easier. And I guess I'm a little devastated at the revelation that it doesn't.
Boom, indeed.

On American Gods.

I'm currently reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. The book is great so far, and I recommend it. I've read a few of Neil’s books (The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Coraline) so I knew that I’d be walking into a world where fantasy, myth and horror could play a role. I really like the world’s set-up: any god, myth or legend that’s been worshipped and believed in comes into being. And as communities came to the new world, they brought with them their old gods. These old gods became forgotten, and ignored, and live amongst us the best they can, surviving the best they can. Our modern world brings a type of degenerate worship, the media, the internet, gaming, instant gratification, and so “new gods” are now also amongst us, and they have little to no respect for the gods that came before them.

This had me thinking about the gods that might rule my life. These incarnations of gluttony, of self-hatred and depression. What does the demon behind depression look like? I imagine a black sinewy cloud, that grows in thickness and opacity as it surrounds me. I hear whispers, they talk about me and all of my faults. I imagine a large leech, attached to me as I sleep, rendering my rest useless and taking from me whatever automates a life. I see a veil between me and the world. A veil that pulses from my own chest, an implanted shackle existing only for me.

What of anxiety? I imaging full-black eyes (think Robert Durst, lol) that twitch. I hear a high-frequency screeching that’s barely audible but that ebbs and flows, driving me to swat at my ears. I see cages monkeys, shrieking and jumping from cage-wall to cage-wall. I see a face in a plastic bag, gasping desperately for air.

What do you sacrifice to the god of depression? It seems obvious, doesn't it? Time. It’s what he takes. Your time becomes his time, and he grows fat with it. I've lost so much of it. Whole segments of my life that hold no real memory outside of haze. Rough time periods outlined only by occasional happenings. So much time, so much un-lived life. The seed of possibility slowly, painfully plucked out of me and as if part of some sadistic ritual, I'm made to watch as it disintegrates and blows away.

On some days I feel strong, a stubborn fire inside me burns, fuelled by my resentment and anger. Fuck those gods. I scream that internally, toward the void of existence. Fuck you, gods. I mock you and your raison-d'etre. Nothing is of you. You’re made up of others. My dependence on others is rooted in caring. There is sweetness there. Fuck you, false-gods. When I survive you, a part of me laughs doggedly. Ridicule. I hope it shames you. Hope. I imagine that shames you as well. You are a twat, a real douche. Maybe I’ll imagine you at a dance-club, surrounded by the vapid and the spoiled. You’d be annoyed. That amuses me. False eyelashes and spray tans. Hair gel and male-ego. Forced baby-voices and rich parents. Maybe your demon is Paris Hilton. If that’s the case, I’ll pray to her.

Is this my life?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How I imagine being robbed.

Of course, my version of this goes:

Criminal walks up behind me at ATM. 
Criminal: Move over! I'm robbing you!
Me: Fine.
Criminal: *boop* *boop* *beep*
I wait patiently . . . .
Criminal: Jesus you have a lot of debt.
Me: Exactly, fuck right off.
Criminal leaves. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

How to Avoid Committing Suicide.

Taryn Riera over at Salon wrote something called How to Avoid Committing Suicide. I liked the title - it gives you a good idea of the tone of the article.

I recommend you read it. It doesn't have a cure-all in it. There's no magical panacea (what a bummer). But it is honest:

I know that recovery is a process that stops and starts, goes up and down, and sometimes spits you back out right where you started. And I know that all of this is OK. It may seem counterproductive to tell someone that their desire to cut themselves to ribbons or throw themselves into traffic is all right, but as someone who has been there and back again more times than I can count, there is nothing more important. These feelings are OK and you aren’t crazy for having them. As I struggle to write something inspiring to the people like me, desperately hoping for a way out of their illness, I can only say that you will not feel this way forever. There will be a time, even if only for a little while, when you feel happy. Whether it’s an Adderall-fueled binge of productivity, a medication that works for you, falling in love, getting a dog, finding a therapist who isn’t shit, making a new friend, or going on an adventure, you will be happy again. You will remember what it feels like to want to be alive. And those times are worth it.

It's what we hope isn't it ...  that the pain we survive can be outweighed by the good days.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Uprooting shame.

I’ve been a little disconnected lately. I’ve not been present, and have felt mildly detached from my waking life. In French they call it being “dans la lune” which literally translated means “being in the moon,” but signifies something between daydreaming and just not paying attention.

This morning while lazing around I decided to turn on an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. I often check out the program, since I watch episodes when they feature people I wish to listen to like Pema Chödrön or Deepak Chopra. Her show also often interviews megachurch-type pastors -American after all - I don’t watch those episodes. I have no time for doctrine.

Today's guest was Dr. Christine Northrup. She’s a doctor who focuses on women’s health, and more recently on menopause and aging. In her conversations with Oprah, she mentioned how destructive shame is in the body. She said studies have found that a certain enzyme is produced in the body, and leads to physical discomfort and can actually be measured in the body. She and Oprah went back and forth about the place shame holds in the body, and how it can be released through things like yoga or a deep tissue massage (like how some may cry or be triggered when being massaged).

This also lead into our own stories, and our daily messaging to ourselves. She pointed to two studies. First a a group of middle-aged men who were asked about their “glory days” as student athletes. Half of the group was asked to carry a picture of their happiest moment from those glory days, and to live as if that was still their lives. This lead to them being more active, to engaging in more social activity and to making healthier choices. The second group was asked to just reminisce and hold that story in a more nostalgic space. Well, the group that “lived” their glory days became healthier in every measurable way.

Her second example split a group of house-cleaning staff at a hotel. One group was told that their jobs actually meet the requirement for minimum amount of daily activity, and that they’re actually “working out” during the day. The other group was not told this. The group that felt they had an above-average activity level ended up losing weight and improving their health status even though their daily work was identical to the other group.

This all had me feeling all sorts of ways. Whenever there are studies that point to the way in which mood and attitude have a direct correlation to our mental wellness and the health of our bodies, I’m left feeling guilty. Is my depression the reason I am overweight? Of course it is. I am exhausted and I give-up on participating in life often. It makes this type of A + B = C thinking painful, because my depression is not entirely self-made and self-sustained. But sometimes this type of "positive thinking" philosophy is extremely patronizing to someone with disordered thinking.

What if there are ways through cognitive behavioural therapy (or therapies that are yet to be discovered) that the self, and the self-hating-self can be helped? 

I struggle with grasping my role in my own health, and how to move forward since not only does the task seem insurmountable at times, but depending on my broken self doesn't seem like the best bet.

I think what really struck me was the recognition of how much shame I feel. How I wear that shame on and in my body and how much is hurts me. How it digs in me. How just naming it, I can feel it screwing into the deepest part of my belly.

But how do I get rid of shame? How do I uproot it successfully? It isn't just a weed. It isn't an anomaly. It's been planted, seeded long ago, and I've quietly fed and watered it over a decade. 

Unpacking everything that I carry with me is exhausting as it is. It seems that the layers are many and the work is always.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wince and Purge.

Is it possible to purge sadness as you would would a stomach full of bile?

What if I go home and watch nothing but the saddest films I can find? Holocaust films. Documentaries about the foulest bits of us, about unimaginable loss and tragedy.

If I am sufficiently horrified, if my inability to cry is lessened by a trickle of tears, would that help?

Would it be enough to strain the pain out of me?

Would I find relief?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Social Media and not being “liked.”

With social media, it's so easy to post something and declare your existence. Your sense of humour. Your ability to say something wise or clever. But then what?

What about cohesive thoughts? What about narrative? What about asking those around you serious, deep questions about the nature of life without it being "liked" or ignored.

If social media leads to the superficial, and we engage it constantly, is that what comes of our brains? Of our own thought processes?

I find myself thinking in 140 character snappy statements. I wonder about the validity of feeling isolated when I'm constantly connected.

I was hanging out with E and she was telling me about how there have been studies (through a educational/development lens) that have found that time spent in front of screens, especially video games and iPads, significantly limits a child’s (and most likely an adult’s) ability to self-regulate and be patient.

Yes. This. Of course. Of course.

That's a big part of this social-media alternate reality. It's instant, but it's distant. I have to remind myself to make eye contact while at work. I was born in 1984*. I wasn't raised with an iPhone in my hand. My brain was potentially fully formed (scientists say this happens in your 20’s). I am educated, and seemingly able to use logic, and I actively perpetuate an addictive social crutch. On top of the other ones I have going on.

I can’t help but think about what E said, and how much our habits really shape me. It’s really everyday.

I've been really busy at work this past week and a bit. We've been moving / renovating so it's been a hot mess. And you know me in a hot mess, I get “activated” and get involved, trying to fix and organize everything. I'm really handy, but I end up exhausted.

*I didn’t have a cell phone in high school (thankfuck, I shudder to think of the dumb stuff I would have done with a camera phone, I was so desperate for my first boyfriend). Dodged that bullet! Instead of my shame being immortalized on the internet, it lives in me! Huzzah! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

CLSC help-line: a line to nowhere.

I received a letter in the mail from my local CLSC regarding my request for a family doctor. They said I was already registered to Dr. Rishi (the doctor who went missing) so I was denied. They then say if I have any questions to call them.

I called them. It’s one of those automated phone systems that just hangs up on you.

Legit. Press 1, or it hangs up on you. Listen to a short explanatory message, it hangs up on you. What you’re calling for isn’t listed? It hangs up on you.

I was hung up on 4 times. I got no information. I wasn't able to speak to anyone.

Adding to this hot-mess of medical legitimacy was the fact they they gave Dr. Rishi’s cell phone number. So I called him. This is how that went:

Dr. R: Hello?

K: Hello, this is weird. I’m sorry to be calling you but the CLSC gave me your phone number because I tried to sign up for a medicare doctor and they said I can’t because I’m attributed to you.

Dr. R: I’m sorry there’s been a lot of change with my work situation, but I can definitely help you either sign back up for medicare or you can follow me to my new practice.

K: When I called Curel-Med they were super sketchy about your whereabouts. One day you said to call you back. I called you back and you didn’t work there anymore.

Dr R: Who is this?

K: It’s Kristin (last name omitted).

Dr. R: Oh hi Kristin! I have your medical report from the hospital!

K: I know. I know you do. That’s why I’ve been trying to reach you.

Basically he left the practice at Curel-Med because of a bunch of administrative errors on their part, and he’s starting a smaller clinic near Concordia’s Layola campus. He apologized for the hot-mess, and said they were supposed to mail out letters to his clients, but didn’t (no doubt an example of their shittyness). He said he was on vacation until the new clinic opened. So I apologized for bothering him, and I’ll be able to see him in a few weeks. In theory.

The adventure continues!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Friday, April 3, 2015

Anthropomorphizing my depression.

I sometimes find myself anthropomorphizing my depression. I sometimes also do this to plants. Every-time I drink juice or eat fruit I think I should give some to the plant - because why wouldn't they want a treat? 

With depression, it helps me describe things in a way that may seem sinister and poetic, but that fundamentally allows me to fully explain the way in which it feels I'm being taken. 

I drew this today.

This is what he wants:

I want your energy. I want to suck it from your bones and leave you reeling in your exhaustion. I want all of your ambition. I want you to struggle day-to-day and think of the future as an insurmountable obstacle course. I want your connections. I want to make it difficult for you to relate to those around you, I want you to self-isolate and retract. I want you to feel the weight of guilt. I want you to know you're letting down everyone around you. Your mother wonders what she did wrong that made you so sad. You're hurting your mother; Your sweet, kind mother. I want you to be uncontrollably angry at noting in particular. I want you to resent life. I want you to carry your shame. You aren't pretty. You should be. Girls should be pretty. Your body is disgusting. Nobody wants it. Nobody wants you. You degrade yourself constantly and you're wrong to think this is all in your mind, you deserve every bit of this pain. This pain is self-inflicted because you know you're fundamentally shitty. Sometimes, I might give you a good day. This highest of highs where you feel in control of yourself and your choices. This good day will serve me well, as you'll often wonder if your one good day is how other people feel all the time. It is. Their life is a series of good days. They have enjoyment. Daily. Your life is a series of shitty ones. A literal life sentence. I've taken hope from you. All the word is now is a slap in the face. You haven't really noticed, but I've removed hope from you over time, and now you don't even know what it feels like. You wouldn't even recognize it. I live for taking these things from you. They fill me up. And you die from every extraction. You are a defective being, longing to self-destruct. 

Isn't that more evocative than just saying, "I'm depressed you guys."

How the week goes.

So it's Friday. It's also "Good Friday" on Easter weekend so I'm one of three bodies at work today. I was alone for a good part of the morning. I considered just napping but eventually someone else came in. I'll probably leave earlier, because I'm a renegade.

The cycle of the weekday format kind of blows my mind. Whenever Friday rolls around I'm considerably happier and well, elated. I know I can soon go home and "take it easy." In my case right now my family is in the country visiting my brother, so I can take it real easy and not feel any type of judgement or pressure. I can be alone, and do what I want to do, whatever that is. That's sometimes really nice.

But the cycle cycles and it's Monday and things seem irritatingly redundant.

But it's the nature of the work week, and there are no surprised about what next week will look like. It'll be the same.

I'm having a lot of trouble lately being present in myself. I want to be able to be kind, and be present. Wherever I am.

But lately all I am, and all I continue to be, is tired.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Web-comic: The Latest Kate.

Check out The Latest Kate web-comic.

Man, I had trouble choose there are so many I like! Really great, spot-on stuff! I'm sorry Kate's feeling these things - but I relate so much to most of it (especially with wanting cute animals to say sweet things to me!). I just had to re-post some of her great stuff!

"Depression is such a cruel punishment."

Just came across this quote from Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface by Martha Manning.
Depression is such a cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying in concern. Just the slow erosion of the self, as insidious as any cancer. And, like cancer, it is essentially a solitary experience. A room in hell with only your name on the door.
I now desperately want to read this book.

Hey Monster! You deserve a medal!

I ♥ this. This is from heymonster, a web-comic that has a few posts on depression and anxiety. This text accompanies the following image:

Ok, having depression or any kind of mood disorder fucking sucks. It can make even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming and impossible. But if you’re feeling shitty and you wake up and are able to accomplish any of these things you deserve a fucking medal. I know shit is hard but you’re not alone. Take solace in the little things. Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they’re not important. Little steps are never a bad place to start.

Check out heymonster.

Can I do it? Please.

So I was checking out this post about anxiety, and the author writes about her anxiety over checking her voice-mail. 

I saw this a few minutes ago, and I can't stop thinking about it. It's like an itch I can't scratch, and it's driving me nuts!

Funny (in an awful way of course) how anxiety is a weird hat that takes different shapes depending on the head it lands on. 

*Head Nod* to Pia Glenn.

Stigmatizing Depression Is Not Going To Help Us Understand What Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz Did

So this piece by Pia Glenn is the first I've read that makes sense to me. There's been a lot of misinformed bullshit about depression and it's role in the Germanwings/Andreas Lubitz story and there's also been a lot of garbage editorializing following those assumptions.

Hats off to Pia, her piece is well-informed, and well, touched. She speaks from a specific position and she's able to talk about things that are difficult to talk about, and link issues that need linking.

A few highlights for me:
Whether we personally live with it or not, it serves us all to work toward having a better grasp of mental illness. What I want is for conversations about depression, public and private, to focus more on compassion, care, and treatment than finger-pointing and accusations.
Lack of access to care cannot be removed from its outcome.
...we also have unprofessional mental health “professionals,” rampant misdiagnoses, and poor treatment or a lack of treatment altogether. The same impulse to just know what this thing is, to give it a name and a label and a shape and a solid form, applies to both this heinous tragedy and also to depression itself.
So much work needs to be done, I hope the next few weeks bring about more work like Pia's, and really engage people in conversation. 

Moody Monday can cure depression.

Nice Tweet, Nice Hippo.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fucking duh.

Suicide-prevention efforts must last longer, new research suggests.

Fucking duh. 

On and around Germanwings.

The last few days have been odd for me. The news coverage has been all about the Germanwings crash, the 150 people aboard who died, and the co-pilot who crashed the plane deliberately. As things usually go following something horrible happening, we’re soon inundated with information about the perpetrators of the crime, we see their facebook profile photo, we hear about them from acquaintances. Usually we hear about them being radicalised by a cult or group of some kind. Instead, this week we've been privy to the mental health history of Andreas Lubitz.

There is a lot of talk about his treatment for “suicidal tendencies” and for an apparent doctor's not that told him not to go to work. The validity of these things will make their way to the public soon enough.

This isn't a suicide. He willingly, and with intent, killed 150 people. It took him several minutes to crash the plane. Though he may have been in a dissociative mind set, or maybe was having some type of psychotic break, this was not a “normal” suicide.

Michelle Cornette over at the American Association of Suicidology likens this type of mass murder/suicide to school shootings. I can see that link. Through there seems to be something way more intimate about hunting people in a closed space. Pot-ay-toes / pot-ah-toes of murder/suicide I guess.

Also, as an aside (though linked) the existence of an American Association of Suicidology and the application of a science to studying suicide as a cultural phenomenon will be increasingly important as time goes on. Just last night I was on the edge of discussing the pervasive culture of depression and anxiety with a friend. We broached the subject, but both capitulated to the enormity of the discussion due to the late night hour.  But this is important. And it makes no sense that so many in my age-group live with anxiety and depression. 

Where does this come from? How is it so generationally situated? How do we address it? How do we prevent it in the generations following us?

Everything is linked.

I hate to be so clichéd but I can't help but think of  Chuck Palahniuk's / David Fincher's Fight Club.

Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

But here's the thing... Anger is exhausting. Often what comes next is despair. Is it spiritual despair? Is that what this is? Are we a generation (or generations) of people who just don't see the point?

What I'm seeing now in the coverage of Germanwings is loose talk about stigma. The fact is if you start obstructing people with depression from doing their jobs, the system will fall. We're everywhere, we sad fucks, we mopey folks, we with our glasses half-empty.

When I see anything about Germanwings, I see ways systems failed. I see stigma. I see a lack of follow-up. I wonder about his treatment and what he needed. As more comes out about all of this, I hope the dialogue becomes more engaged, more critical, because right now it's stagnant and over-simplifying depression.

Statistically speaking, of the 150 victims of the crash, some also lived with some sort of mental illness. Many live with it. Those who die by it are often under-represented. In the case of Germanwings my only hope is that the surviving families are able to get support and care, the way most living with depression also require.