The old Bait & Switch

You think it is innocent worm...

...But it is devil worm in disguise!

Today I wrote/edited two short stories and sent them out to paying markets. Right now I’m working on the ‘forgetting about them’ phase – This follows the Rules For Writing as I know them. I then left my house and had an absolutely wonderful afternoon wandering around with a couple of dear friends, and now I’m going to fall into bed with a Terry Pratchett novel and see if my dog will hang out with me while I read.

What I’m trying to say here is: This blog post? That I’m writing right now? It’s a fake. I’m almost out of words for the day. I’m only writing *this* so that I can redirect you to this:

Mount Rainier Considers its Mental Health

It’s . . . it’s a new take on depression, okay? Trust me, all ye who take my books all the time and thank me for recommending things to read: You want to enjoy this short story.  It’s a laugh and, of course, totally a metaphor for the painful reality of mental illness in our society.*

Mount Ranier was written by this guy. I met him at Viable Paradise Writing Workshop and he entertained the hell out of me. His writing is brilliant, often funny and always intelligent. His blog lives here: http://spencerellsworth.blogspot.com/ and you should probably check it out, especially if you dislike gluten or just enjoy good food. (I’m not explaining that, in the hopes that your curiosity will COMPLETELY OVERWHELM YOU.)

I hope everyone’s having a great weekend. If you love Spencer, tell him so in the comments of his blog or, I guess, this one, and I will shout at him on Twitter. Go on, it’ll make him really uncomfortable. It’ll be funny.

*Nope. Ain’t.

A Very Short Follow-Up

I haven’t really talked much about the meat and potatoes of depression, precisely: How did I get here? What is my process for going through it? The thing is, I’m overwhelmed by it.  It’s so long. So I’m throwing it at the internets: What do you want to hear about, if any of this? Do I go into an in-depth analysis of my psyche*? Should I just start at the beginning and work to the end, with the understanding that it will be – sorry – depressing at many points?

The pressure to give my back story is starting to nibble at my heels, is all. So. What do you think?

Thanks, internets. I give you background music, should you care to continue reading:

*There is no amount of money or alcohol that would get me to do that.

The First Failed Experiment

So many brushes. So little face.

“To fail is to give up. But you are in the midst of a moving process. Nothing fails then. All goes on. Work is done. If good, you learn from it. If bad, you learn even more. Work done and behind you is a lesson to be studied. There is no failure unless one stops.”

-Ray Bradbury

 

A brief intro: I was supposed to write a list (therapy) of things that are important to me, things I’d like to change (or ‘move through’ in therapy-speak) and small changes I could make in my daily life that would make me feel as though a positive shift is happening.  I have lots of these things, but one of them was: Taking pride in appearance.  I don’t really care to delve into the shallow depths of that right now, but let’s just say I’ve always resided pretty solidly in the camp of being a more confident person when I feel like I’m putting my best face forwards. It’s just, you know, been a long few years of shitty jeans and sweatpants and not brushing my hair, so let’s just say that my best face has been in the background.

To that end, I decided to try wearing makeup. Not a lot, because 1. Ew, 2. How? and 3, Why? Still, a little bit. I can pull that off. People have noticed! I’ve had compliments! And yet. Here I am, writing this.

What I’ve learned about makeup is that yes, it looks lovely, ever-so-subtly highlighting what I think of as my facial assets. (my $401K in eyelash length, sadly, has not fared well, but moving on – ) Still, you must – and this is very important – take it the fuck off at the end of the day.

Every day that you put it on.

Every. Day.

Now. I have been frequently known to complain about how long it takes to brush my teeth and GOOD GODS WHY have they not invented an affordable way to keep teeth from getting all icky every few hours between brushings? My god, my teeth! They’re so needy. Dentist visits, flossing, brushing, theoretical whitening (because I can’t be bothered), wisdom tooth removals, cavities, blah blah blah.  It’s all so very boring and time-consuming. Just for teeth! Because without them, life is full of soup and awful.

I feel I may have digressed…

The point is: if I’m that annoyed by my teeth – features with which I am stuck, hopefully for life – how do you think I feel about taking off makeup, with which I am not stuck, every damn day? Not good, that’s how. Yet when I wake up with creepy little lines of mascara turning my face into an anime version of itself, I’m forced to think: “I should have taken off my makeup.” And that pisses me off, because at that point it’s morning, and I’m supposed to not only brush my damned teeth for the shillionth time, but also remove and – gak – reapply! -my makeup.

The long and short of it is: Makeup? I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me. We tried, we did, and while I think I’ll still trot you out for weddings and funerals and the occasional Tuesday, I think we should remain distant acquaintances in the meantime. Let’s shake hands and part as friends, shall we?

Mad Cow Disease

Non-Mad Cow in Manitoba.

One of my red flags for depression – OH GOD SO SICK OF THAT WORD.

Quick sidebar:  For the duration of this post, depression shall be referred to as ‘Mad Cow Disease’. Alright, here we go:

One of my red flags for mad cow disease was how much time I would spend laying awake in bed, going over all of the things I had failed to do that day. Clean out the fridge. Study for an appropriate length of time. Eat well. Go to the gym. Walk the dog six times. And on and on.My heart would pound; my hands would become clammy, and my eyes would stare widely at the ceiling.  Many, many times I just got up and stayed up – I’ve pulled more all-nighters than a med student.

Now that I’m in a head space where I am trying to change habits, and since sleep has become a much simpler process (Thanks, cipralex), it occurred to me that I could change this one.

I’m not much into meditation because oh-so-very-boring, and I’ve gotten sick of berating myself for not being able to sit still and hold my mind in one place for very long. I’m not a meditator. I can accept this. What I can do is lay in bed at night, after devouring a few chapters o whatever delicious book I’m currently eating, and go over the things I’ve done well that day.  This is not always a complete list – I’m not back at the gym regularly yet, I still hate cleaning out the bloody fridge, and my eating habits are much as they always were. But. I do walk my dog a few times a day, I do eat fairly well, I do – as it turns out – quite a few things right on a daily basis.  I was just focused on the wrong things.

Much with everything else around mad cow disease (snicker) I’m looking back on that old behaviour and thinking, bloody hell.  Where was that getting me?  Overtired, irritable and anxious, that’s where. (Yes, feelings are now places.) These days, even if all I manage in a day is a shower – which may happen one day – I’m focusing on that one good act, rather than all of my perceived failings.

I used to think that if I didn’t beat myself up, I wouldn’t get anything done. The truth is that if I reward my brain with some positive reinforcement for the things it does well, it’s more inclined to go to sleep and do even more the next day.

Hmm.  My brain is a two-year-old. I suppose that’s okay. Anyhow, those are my musings for today.  What about you? What do you do to reward yourself for good behaviour?

 

Assholes

A quick post this morning for you all to enjoy this brilliant thing. (Hat tip to my brother, and beyond him, to however he got it.)

My long form advice on being surrounded by assholes: You can’t change them; only how you respond to them. Try word games! How many times can you use the word ‘Abderian’ before they finally google it? If you smile and wink when you say it, can you get away with it for longer?

My short form advice: Kick ’em in the shins and run, screaming with laughter, into the night.

Have a lovely day, non-assholes of the world.

 

The Process of Medication

WEEK ONE

Stage One: Hope
Hey, I feel . . . better. Clearer. It’s easier to think. My memory has improved. I’m sleeping a lot more easily.  I wonder if it’s the medication?

Stage Two: Doubt
That’s ridiculous. It’s only been a week. This is some kind of placebo effect – I’m making it up.  My brain is trying to trick me. Damn you, evil brain, I am SO not falling for your crap.

WEEK TWO
Go to doctor for follow up. Find out that, in fact, many people see a change in four days. They have to tell you six weeks so that you don’t get your hopes up. Get hopes up.

WEEK THREE
Stage Three: Mistrust
Pills can’t actually work on me.  It’s too easy.  But I am . . . lighter. Stronger, faster, better!  We can rebuild her.  We have the technology.

Stage Four: Paranoia
Oh good gods, what if I turn into some kind of robot. I’m happier, but am I manic? What if I’m manic-happy? Am I going to be one of those spazzily happy people?  I hate those people!

What if I plateau at some weird level of flat, and have no personality whatsoever?

Phone everyone. Ask about levels of mania or blandness. Friends baffled. Have noticed no such changes. They suggest that I may be a little more sociable, and I’ve been happier. Hmm. As friends have been known to call me batshit crazy and tell me my ass does, in fact, look fat in those pants, I elect to trust.

WEEK FOUR
Stage Five: Peace
Here’s the thing about the pills.  They are not magic pills. (Sad.) I’m pretty much just going to be ME, with better sleeps and lower anxiety and the ability to say to myself, ‘Hey self, as it turns out? You’re not utter shite, after all. Not even a little bit.’

So, sorry for taking a while between posts, bloggey world.  I’ve been out, doing things, working on the work I do that’s designed to make me into a whole, content human. It feels good! I feel stronger.  I am . . . BIONIC GWEN.  Muahaha.

(Stage Six:  Learning that the magic pills don’t fix nerd.)