You can’t understand Depression

Robin Williams had success and wealth. He was loved by many, but clearly, he was not understood on the level he needed to be to feel that staying on this plane was tolerable.

The fact that the topic is being discussed is hopeful. However – we have a very long way to go . .

DEPRESSION: If you don’t suffer from it you can’t understand it. I know people are trying to because they care, but what’s not being talked about is the self-loathing and belief that there is no future, no hope, to fill the well of grief that many suffer.

Living in our society, where people have many layers of defense in public, which often expresses in anger and disdain, is a huge trigger for many.

Living in our society where value is placed on personal net worth, career success and relationship longevity, for someone already struggling with their own self-worth these criteria can be devastatingly oppressive. If one hasn’t achieved these benchmarks, the cycle of self-loathing and inability to try – for fear of failing, again, is debilitating.

The constant barrage of messages to ‘be happy’ and ‘go for it’ and that – if you’re not going for your dream you’re somehow wasting your life, dismisses the personal stories of a huge segment of the population.

The truth is, some people will talk about it, some will care, but very few will actually change the way they operate with people they don’t know to take an attitude of kindness and understanding.

I’ve made attempts in the past to share the truth about ‘where I live’ with people when it’s become relevant. The lesson I’ve learned (and, clearly, I was sharing with people who hadn’t the imagination to empathize) is that it is a rare and intelligent breed of human that truly ‘gets it’ and isn’t afraid to look at it.

I have been lucky in that I’ve had a highly gifted counselor, and a friend or two who knows this country a little bit. I have been given tools to evolve up the spiral of my psyche to a place where I understand that many of the beliefs I was given about myself and my life were truly inappropriate to reality.  I think it’s nothing short of miraculous that I’ve had these insights, and to someone who has less qualified and competent guidance, and a less innate optimism and joy (which I have discovered under the mountain of detritus piled up by a childhood of neglect, abuse and crazy-making messages) will be hard pressed to come up from the deep cone of despair without a great bit of help.

 

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#lysistrataproject

As with most problems in our world, there really are simple answers; people just keep getting in the way.

In a recent interview, Stephen Soderberg, the director, mentioned that people who dig in their heels against new ideas with the defense of “I don’t believe in that”, will stop a creative process dead.

Women are embattled. This is indisputable fact.  There is a War on Women.  This is not news to anyone who’s paying attention and sees women as people.

Men in government (which to me has become synonymous with despotic, mean, cruel and vindictive, not to mention pompous, condescending and disdainful of the general public) are working their hardest to make sure that the majority of us can’t have nice things; women especially,

I believe there is an extremely, almost embarrassingly simple remedy for this.  It is as old as time, and it is classic, written about in Greek mythology and recently given a musical theatre treatment that, in my not-so-humble opinion would have been saved from total turkeydom with a John Water’s treatment and some Julie Taymor production values.  If you haven’t guessed it by the hashtag header, I’ll ‘splain.

I suggest the Lysistrata Project.  Lysistrata, the title character in Aristophanes comedy, “…persuades the other women to withhold sexual privileges from their menfolk as a means of forcing them to end the interminable Peloponnesian War.”  I propose that the Women of America withhold sex from their men until legislation stops being anti-woman.  Of course, sex workers would have to be on board with the whole thing.  As a matter of fact, considering the behavior of the boys in DC, they would be the most important players.   I may have to do a kickstarter so that I can compensate these Generals and make it worth their while.

The majority of the population in America is female.  Many of them are heterosexual and in relationships; committed or otherwise.  I would be interested to see what would happen if the bargaining chip for a man’s pleasure became a call to a legislator insisting that women’s issues stop being abused and start being respected.  No blow jobs, no hand jobs, no pussy.  Unless they make a phone call.  ONE. PHONE. CALL.

I hope you’ll join me.  #lysistrataproject

 

 

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I do not like the sight of hipsters in my neighborhood.  It actually causes my lip to curl in a sneer, involuntarily.  Lately, there’ve been more than a few up here in the Heights and I tell you, it’s just wrong.  This is not the place for that attitude.  Nobody here gives a shit about obscurity.  Au contraire mon fraire.  I’m pretty sure up in here the more popular something is, the more it has street cred my nigga.

Not that I really care.  About anything right now (except my daughter’s success.  THAT is AlwaYS paramount).  I’m supposed to be training this week to get ready for next week’s rehearsals for my dream-come-true choreography premiere at City Center.  I’m really, really excited about it, but I am so exhausted I don’t want to move.  It is entirely possible that my fatigue is due to a killer respiratory infection that I was sporting last week while I worked full time, took dance class every evening and had a 9PM performance every night.  By Friday of last week, my motivation decided to go walk-about.  it makes perfect sense in light of my schedule, but I just can’t with this. (GREAT grammatical bastardization, BTW, whoever came up with that one.  That’s what I call word efficiency).

This damp, chilly, foggy shitty weather is great for staying home and sleeping or surfing netflix and that is the extent of my motivation.  I’m not getting any work, although I’m submitting to everything.  I have no desire to commute to class in this.  And I bought a Steps dance card the day before I discovered that two of my more-well-liked teachers are at BalletArts on alternating days 7 days a week.  AND their class card is $20 cheaper.  Grrrrr.  So I need to motivate my ass out of the house in crappy weather that’s just begging me to nap, to take a class that I am really quite ambiguous about.

I hoped that writing about this would give me a clue or perspective on my lack of motivation, but that ain’t happenin.  As a matter of fact, I’m just getting groggier as I sip my Berry Zinger-laced-with-ginger tea.  More and more the idea of leaving the house to go and try and exert myself physically just seems blatantly WRONG.

When I was younger – as few as three years ago, you couldn’t hold me down from going to class.  Sick or tired or hungover or depressed, I’d be in my ‘tards and tights and a half hour early.

I want to buy yarn  Knitting scarves is appealing to me.  Watching movies and knitting.  That sounds just lovely.  Crafts.  Arts and crafts. and Movies.

I’m going to stay in today.  But just today, because I’m 11 days away from performance, and motivation or no, I’m not getting up on that stage unprepared.  Oh!  Look at that.  I found my motivation.

 

 

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Dark and Dirty-Is it like that for you, too?

Apparently, I’m not the only one slogging through some pretty deep shit right now.

It appears that there’s a lot us coming around to the dark side of their spiral again, and we’re not finding the cushiony, accepting affection that we know we need to feel some healing.  Still.  Patterns are repeating themselves and our belief systems are stuck in place.

According to the mystic, cosmic sources I look at, this is a time of paradigm shift.  We have the opportunity to truly change what we believe about the world, to open ourselves up to what, in the past, may have seemed like fantasy, and to create real change for ourselves and others on a soul level.

This all makes me slightly disassociative, if not completely schizoid.  I want desperately to believe that I can change my deep beliefs so that I can show to myself the kind of support that I give to others.  I’ve changed lives.  I’ve seen people pursue their dreams because I’ve been in their lives.  But because I don’t have the ability to step outside of myself for myself, I continue to come around the cycle to the place of self-loathing, hopelessness and desperation.

People are always talking about pursuing your dreams, and posting trite little positivisms about how you should believe in order to achieve that.  There are blogs and books about how to survive financially and emotionally when you’re trying to achieve that dream.

One of the things those advice columns, articles and books talk about is having a good network of support.

This isn’t something that’s a realistic option for me. My basic ability to trust people is completely compromised.  See my previous blog entry  Your Brain on C-PTSD .  The fear centers in  my brain are physiologically distorted.  Reasonable social situations are threatening to me.  I am hyper-vigilant, overly-sensitive to sensory stimuli and unable to trust.

I’m pretty sure my purpose on earth is to teach people how to to love and accept themselves, how to see their own glistening star, and to have an understanding of the behavior of others in relation to their needs so that they can move towards their true soul expression.  I am able to separate my distortions of perception from how others exist in the world.  I know this is a gift.

However, until I find someone who can stand by my side, have a deep understanding of this condition and shore me up, it looks like this teacher will not be practicing what she’s preaching.  I think about possible avenues to make a career for myself all the time: go back to school for journalism or creative writing or social work, start a dance company of audition for a show.  These are terrifying ideas.  Why bother because there is no chance of my success.  That’s my brain on C-PTSD.  It’s too terrifying to consider trying because of the lifelong lessons of  failure and punishment.  The most recent foray into that world sent me into this spiral in the first place.

All of this crap is no fun to share, but a part of me believes that shedding light on something makes it lose it’s power.  I’m at the despair point in my cycle; that point in my spiral where focusing on what’s going on and trying to make some sense of it deepens my self-loathing and despair.  I suppose that could be interpreted as a sign that I should not think about  it; I should ‘get over it’ and get on with my life.  If I do that it won’t make this problem go away, though, will it?  It will rear it’s ugly head again. Again and again and again.  And again and again and again.

Being positive in your outlook is all fine and good, but if the underlying sewage that’s clogging the system isn’t dealt with, it’s going to continue to impede progress.

Here’s something, though:  there was a time when my way of dealing with this despair was with destructive behaviors.  Ironically, I find myself going in the opposite direction now; I don’t want a glass of wine, a beer, a cigarette.  I want healing.  I want financial security.  I want artistic environments to work on my talents.  Naming those desires starts the cycle again because I don’t have those things and despite having brought them to myself before, there are missed opportunities because I focused on other things that I thought were opportunities before me, so I didn’t take the long-term office assignment because I had an interview! that was for a job that would fit perfectly into my plan but then the  devastation that ensues  after putting myself out there and running into narcissists or power hungry apes sends me deeply back into my cave.

I’d like to pretend I’m writing this so that anyone else who’s going through the same thing won’t feel alone, but the truth is I feel alone and hope that people reading this will have some empathy for me.  One of the immature symptoms of C-PTSD sufferers is rescue fantasy.    It’s no accident that Cinderella’s rescue is a story I truly wish I could live.  The telling thing is that I believe in Astral Projection and Telekinesis, teleportation and Quantum physics more than I believe that something like that could ever be a truth for me.

Beam me up Scottie.

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Incomplete Journalism, The Fast Food Worker’s Strike and Armchair Economics

It’s really exciting to see that there is coverage of the Fast Food Worker’s strike on CNN.  A public outcry for a living-wage-as-minimum-wage is something I kind-of never expected to see. Unfortunately, I’m not terribly hopeful about the response of the employers and lawmakers to this, in part because of the shoddy, slanted reporting that’s going on.

Obviously, no one can live on the current minimum wage.  The fact that the restaurant organization is claiming that paying people a livable wage will  drive up their costs, forcing them to raise prices, especially on their dollar menu, and hire fewer workers, is not being countered by the truthful statement that if workers make more money, more money will go back into the restaurant owner’s pockets.  Currently, workers cannot afford to eat out.  Maybe they can afford the dollar menu?  I have a hard time believing that a fast food joint wouldn’t benefit from most workers being able to afford a meal deal, that usually costs upwards of $6, rather than ordering something that only brings in a dollar.  (I haven’t eaten fast food in a very long time, so I’m guestimating here.  I don’t dare eat at those places).

I view the elimination of the dollar menu as a positive sign all around.  First of all, the dollar menu’s main target is people who barely have a dollar in their pocket to spend on food, isn’t it?  If people aren’t taking advantage of it, perhaps it’s because they don’t have to; they can afford to buy a real meal.  Secondly, if everyone is making a living wage, the only people who’ll miss the dollar menu are the real bargain hunters.  I believe that if people can afford it, they’re going to choose healthy, organic food.  There’s free range fried chicken and burgers, after all, but that’s not something you’re likely to ever see on a dollar menu.  Honestly, who wouldn’t choose humane, organic food if they could afford it?

So let’s see.  On a living wage, people can afford to take their families out for a healthy meal.  Who benefits from this?  Obviously, the restauranteur and everyone who works for her; waiters, dishwashers, bussers, bartenders, chefs, prep cooks, hosts, if not with the cash from the increased tips, then at least from job security; all of the restaurant suppliers: produce, meat, dry goods, beverage and spirit, utilities suppliers, landlords (or the bank if the owner can afford to own the building, the likelihood of which is much higher in my scenario), etc.  All of those employees and suppliers now have more money to put back into the economy by buying more, likely higher-end, products and services.  You get my point.

What I want to know, and I asked this same question over a decade ago, is why isn’t  this the main stream rhetoric of economists?  Why isn’t this the agenda of business owner everywhere?  

The only thing that occurs to me, regarding CEO’s and billionnaires, is that they’re already making so much money, they don’t care if their businesses do better?  But that doesn’t really make sense, now, does it.  So why are they so greedy; ultimately at their own expense?

It would be a miraculous salve to the economy if minimum wage were to be catapulted to the $15/hour living wage that the workers are asking for, but until my armchair economics are public opinion, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

I’d love any feedback on the economics of this, but keep it intelligent, decipherable and polite.  I took the time to articulate my arguments.  If you claim to be an economist, make your points something understandable or don’t bother.   Attacks will not be tolerated.  I still mediate this blog.

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Book Two

Oh, my mind is so clean this morning.  Amazing considering the nightmare of last night’s tossing and turning.

I’ve recently discovered a name for the torture my mind has endured since junior high school:  It’s called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or C-PTSD.  It is defined as a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged repeated traumas in which there is an actual or perceived inability for the victim to escape , which results in the lack or loss of control, helplessness, and deformations of identity and sense of self.   Wikipedia Description  C-PTSD Symptom Chart

Pretty heavy shit, loaded with shame, dissociation and deep, deep grief.  It doesn’t help that we live in a society that just LOVEs to blame the victim, tell people to ‘get over it’, and has a distinct lack of compassion with people who can’t just ‘change their attitude.’

C-PTSD, as described, is a psychological injury.  In other words, there are biological, physiological changes to the brain.  This is your brain on C-PTSD

I guess the reason I want to share this is because it helps me understand why I have been unable to pursue my dreams, and why I have, as my former therapist coined it “A disastrous relationship history”,among other things.  Gaining an understanding of my issues and working through them will eventually empower me to dare to take steps towards the performing career I want, the relationships I’d like to have, or whatever it is I choose to do.  As it stands now, I’d rather not even make the attempt.  The discomfort of the ‘guilt and shame hangover’ that ensues when I function in life is not something I want to keep experiencing.  Currently, the easiest way to stay peaceful is to avoid the situations that trigger those feelings, which, unfortunately, includes most activities.

I had wanted to go for a walk or a run or a dance on the river yesterday.  I had intentions to join a gym the day before that.  There’s something going on that has me not even wanting to walk out the door to engage in activities that previously you couldn’t keep me from.  It has a lot to do with the processing that has begun as a result of reading Judith Lewis Herman’s Trauma and Recovery, a book that I had to often put down for the welling up of emotion it provoked.

In light of this discovery, I think it’s sort of amazing that I’ve accomplished the things I have.  People have always commented on my strength of character and mental perseverance. This new journey is going to be the true test of that.

Baby steps.  It’s going to be slow going.  I think this is the beginning of my second book in life.  I’ve been told by more than one psychic and astrologer that I will live two lives in one, starting at about this age.  Maybe there’s something to that.

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Today’s Lesson

My Bestie, Danyelly, is coming into town tonight for a friend’s birthday and I’m meeting them after work for karaoke (pronounced Kail-A-Oh-kay) so I needed to get a little fancy today. Also, it’s around twenty-degrees-fahrenheit degrees today, and we have two gaping holes in our apartment awaiting attention. I recently picked  up a little Holmes space heater that works tremendously well.

The space heater was working it’s little blower off, warming my room nicely, and I plugged in my hair dryer to the surge protector, thinking “I probably shouldn’t plug both of these in.” Apparently, I should have drunk more of my morning coffee before attempting to work with electrical appliances, because that thought got stuck in pre-caffeine brain matter. Of course, part of my adventurous self was wondering what would happen, since I’ve been really careful about unplugging the 12.5 amp heater so as not to blow a fuse. Curiosity won, I turned the dryer on and everything shut. Off. completely.

I tried to mess with the fuses, to no avail, and again there was a little niggling voice whispering “It’s not the fuses,” that was ignored. There are only three fuses in our fuse box. One of them was obviously not for my room since it shut off the kitchen when I removed it, one didn’t do anything new when I changed it, and the other we had no spare for.

I was going to leave it and just buy a 20 fuse at some point during the day so I could try the one we didn’t have a replacement for, but when I went to get water out of the pitcher in the fridge, the fridge was dark. One can’t leave a refrigerator without power, even in 20 degree weather with two gaping holes in the ceiling. The apartment is chilly, but I don’t think it’s down to forty degrees.  Yet. Plus, the stuff in the freezer would never survive.

Did you know there’s a little black reset button on the end of your surge protector???? Neither did I!! So who can blame me?!, really, for going and pounding on the super’s door to help me?

Victor, our super, and I have a really good relationship. He misguidedly wanted me to be his girlfriend, and despite a small language barrier, I was tempted. A little bit. He’s also twenty years younger than me, which he swears is not a deterrent, but I think he may be a little impulsive in that area.

Anyway. I wake Victor up, and he says he’ll help me in a minute. I’m late leaving for work at this point and a bit panicked. Lesson number one: Never Panic. It’s never necessary and keeps you from taking care of things simply.

I waited about three minutes. I went back and knocked, rapidly and a lot, on Victor’s door again. I’m like, “C’mon! I’m late for work!” I’m getting pushy; trying not to; failing. He protests that he must get dressed and I tell him to just throw on a t-shirt. He finally appears out of his apartment and goes in search of the fuse.

He comes in and checks the fuses, changes a couple, puts them back.  He comes in my room and does something to the surge protector and everything starts humming. “I’m gonna kill you” he says.

“I did that!” I cry in self-defense. “I turned it on and off multiple times!”

“You know about the black button?” he says.

I bend down and look at the top of the surge protector and see that there is a black reset button. Oy.

“I’m sorry!” I hold my face in embarrassment. “I’m so so sorry! I’m Sorry Victor!” I am effusively apologetic. He smile/smirks at me. “It’s ok” he says. “You’re late for work,” he throws over his shoulder as he walks out the door.

“I am. SUPER late.”

I’m gonna have to bake something for Victor.

Luckily, no one was at work when I arrived fifteen minutes late, even though the train was just pulling out of the station when I arrived, which has been happening every. single. day. for about two weeks.  It doesn’t matter what time I leave the house.  I can hear it when I’m coming down the stairs into the station; pulling in, Mocking me.  I can’t run for it because I have peroneal neuropathy which is triggered when I run down stairs.    It is another lesson in not being attached to events you can’t control because my connecting train always arrives just as I am stepping on to the platform.  Here is a great parable about these kinds of things:  Morning Meditation

In the past I would have spent the remainder of the day beating myself up and planning what to do to make it up to Victor. Age and disappointment have jaded me, for the better, I think, because now I’m just really happy everything’s working, that I know now how to fix any power surge outages, and no one was here when I came in.

The lesson of stay calm and don’t get dramatic is emphasized and maybe learned. Maybe.

I am a little bit fancy and ready for karaoke (Kail-a-oh-kay) and will be able to be warm when I get home tonight.  (I used the socket in the kitchen to blow dry my hair).  Stay calm and Improvise. Continue reading

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