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The flag flies again...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Heavy

Things have been heavy around here for way too long. Hopefully I can change that.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Meditate On This

Do you ever have those people that just rub you the wrong way and you can't figure out why so many other people seem to drink their Koolaid?

I have a story for you...

I write openly about my depression and the medication I take for it. Writing helps me organize the thoughts in my brain in a coherent and understandable way so I can work with my brain instead of against it. My depression began when I was an adolescent, and has ebbed and flowed ever since then. I was 18 when I figured out that self-medicating it with alcohol worked really well, and that worked until I nearly drank myself to death at 28. My past is littered with wreckage of relationships, friendships, job-hopping, six moves in five years, and a foreclosure, for starters. While I don't have (m)any regrets, I can't say I've been all that good at this "life" thing.

ALL THE THINGS

I stopped drinking a month before turning 30 and started working on being a better person in earnest. I continue to see a therapist weekly (six years and counting). I actively participate in alcohol recovery activities, which take up a few nights a week. I go to yoga weekly. I move my body and sweat regularly. I meditate, get enough sleep, and try my damndest to get enough calories of substance in my body every day. I've reduced the stress in my life many times over. I invest time into healthy and fulfilling relationships. Underneath what looks like a healthy and quiet exterior, my life has a heart beat all its own. Nobody knows ALL THE THINGS I have to do to stay afloat.

When I bought my house his summer, I knew I was moving for the last time in a long time. My life was finally settling down and I was SO looking forward to that. Plus I was going to have a garden again! What should have been one of the best summers of my life was weighed down by a sense of panic and dread that I look back on with abject terror. I didn't know what was happening to me, or why I couldn't just do ALL THE THINGS and feel better. I tried to do ALL THE THINGS X 10 and that STILL didn't work. I was no longer treading water doing ALL THE THINGS anymore; I was going under.

I had been strongly against medication FOR ME for a long, long time because of my ego. I figured I had found the toolset I needed to manage my depression (ALL THE THINGS), and as long as I kept doing ALL THE THINGS in perpetuity I would be fine. But this summer I humbled myself and asked for help because the tools I'd been using no longer worked. I was prescribed Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, and haven't looked back.

I feel human again. I can laugh, and cry, and feel my emotions in a way that isn't either over the top or numbed out, because with my depression there is no middle ground. Wellbutrin has given me my life back. My brain works better, I have more energy, and I'm happier in general. While I'm glad that I didn't turn to medication until I did some work ONLY because it's helped me know what warning signs to look for in myself, I can't help but wonder if I might not have had so much burning wreckage when I look back at my life.

Deep breath.

I was given a book of Marianne Williamson's a few years back, and didn't even open it before I donated it. She came on my radar at the same time as many of the other women who have big, shiny "spiritual" online presences. I have to admit that some of them seemed shiny and interesting, and I spent some time following them. Williamson, on the other hand....she rubbed me absolutely the wrong way from day one. I have never been a fan, and could never really put my finger on why. I just chalked it up to us not having the same vibe, and that's cool, whatever.

Today I came across the hashtag #meditateonthis on Twitter. Buzzfeed hasan excellent article that summarizes everything

About post-partum depression, self-proclaimed "Internationally acclaimed Author & spiritual teacher" Marianne Williamson says the following:
CODE ALERT: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says women should be "screened for depression" during and after pregnancy. Their answer, of course, is to "find the right medication." And how many on the "Task Force are on big pharma's payroll? Follow the money on this one. Hormonal changes during and after pregnancy are NORMAL. Mood changes are NORMAL. Meditation helps. Prayer helps. Nutritional support helps. Love helps.

My reactions to reading this statement, in chronological order





I propose a new hashtag: #staywoke

She has some more gems on her Facebook page after that willfully ignorant piece of shit statement too. You can Google it because I refuse to link to that garbage here.

There is that one guy that agrees with her though...



If you think you need pharmaceutical help, BY ALL MEANS PLEASE ASK FOR HELP. It's OK to be human and need help. If you are drowning and not treading water, please get help. Don't listen to ignorant as fuck, faux-spiritual folks spew nonsense. You need help, it's OK, get help. We are lucky to live in an age where modern medicine exists. Use it.

I do not have and do not plan on having children, so I can't specifically speak to post-partum depression, but I'm offering my voice in support of destigmatizing depression of any kind.

In summary...

I finally figured out why Williamson and so many of the people (men and women) in that online personal self-help genre rub me the wrong way: It's the faux-spiritual bullshit and outright arrogance.

That faux-spiritual brand of perfection is a fa├žade. It isn't real. If you peel back the expertly-crafted, PR-heavy outer layers, the heartbeat underneath has both the dark and the light. They are expertly crafted in a way that makes you feel like if you buy their product/book/workshop series, you too can be as saintly and shiny as they are. *Love and light to everyone all the time* ugh gag me. I don't know about you, but today I know I can't appreciate the light without the dark. And as strange as it may sound, I'm eternally grateful for my darkness. It gives me my edges, makes my life more interesting and meaningful, and makes me appreciate the genuine sources of light all that much more.

Don't drink the Koolaid.


Edit: See also, Love and Light

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Like whoa

Whenever I say LIKE WHOA I think of Black Rob and this video, especially the dance move at 0:53/1:30/3:01/3:08/3:48/4:09, the slider phone at 1:56, and the cheesy special effects at 2:50. Endless hilarity circa 1999. You're welcome.

I was looking through my pictures on Instagram when I came across these two pictures:

The timestamps: 49 and 47 weeks ago. These pictures were taken about 10 days apart.

Hella blooms

Hella blooms a week later


The significance: THIS BEGINS 3 WEEKS FROM NOW.

My major like whoa moment? I have nearly made it all the way through Fall and Winter without any serious seasonal depression this year. 

In years past the sight of trees devoid of leaves has hit me hard and knocked the wind out of my sails. A strange sense of dread creeps in at that point and I feel like my depression crashes over me in a wave and I am left being tumbled around, grasping for air, until I get in bed and can't get out of bed.

Exhibit A, last year, 53 weeks ago:

My view when it was hard to get out of bed a year ago this time

Last year I would get home from work, put on my pajamas and get into bed. I slept through the weekends, had no fun, and didn't get out of my pajamas much. I stopped going to the gym. It was as brutal as it has ever been. A couple months back I was feeling the exhaustion, but I think I was just preemtively bracing myself for the wave of depression that never really came. Once I stopped holding my breath and opened my eyes, I realized I had a ton of energy (hallelujah!) and was able to plant a shit ton of fruit trees.

What's good

Last week I caught myself saying that the naked trees are actually really pretty this year. WHO THE HELL AM I? Is this what it's like to be a normal human being? Weird and wonderful. You normal people live an interesting life. Antidepressants are perhaps tied for the best thing that has ever happened to me (see also: getting sober).

In other news...

I adopted a street cat. His name is Monty, short for Monterey Jack. (Extra points to you if you get the reference.) He's super chill. He's my bobcat raccoon, my cat dawg. Overall a pretty rad cat and even after just a few weeks I can't even remember what it was like before he was here, even if it was weird the first few days when I was like SHIT! There is another heart beating in this house and am not alone. But now it's like we've always been together. He sleeps with me all the way through the night and gives great snugz. I was so worried I was going to adopt a psycho cat like some of the cats I've had in the past. I think I got way lucky with him. Timing is everything.

Must always be touching if I am sitting or laying

Case in point

How to catch a bobcat raccoon, Step One:
Put a box on the ground

Kneading my face
This was in his first 30 minutes here, made himself right at home

This is Monty's house now, I just live here

We argue over the space heater

Snugz
I'm sensing a theme

A good friend said to me after I adopted him:


I guess I should have been more specific.