Category Archives: serious stuff

hide my head i want to drown my sorrow { no tomorrow, no tomorrow }

i am not strong enough.

my entire body aches & throbs as if it’s been crushed by a steamroller. moving hurts. breathing hurts.

i can barely stay awake, because sleep is all my body & weary, weary soul can handle right now.

and yet i feel guilty. guilty for my pain. guilty for my inability to cope. guilty that i am not strong enough to make it though the day…because i, i am one of the “lucky ones”. i read as cis-gendered and white. i live in the { relative } safety of a liberal city in a liberal state.  i am employed. i have benefits.

still, i fear for my life. i fear for my friend’s lives. i fear for the future we are creating. i fear for my nephew, for my friends’ children…i fear for all women. i fear for all people of color. i fear for people who love the same gender as they are. i fear for all marriages. i fear for trans*folk. i fear for all people of “non-christian” faith.  i fear for immigrants. i fear for all of us with mental health issues. i fear for all “disabled” folk. i fear for all of us who LOVE FIERCELY. i fear. i fear. i fear.

I AM NOT STRONG ENOUGH

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little victories

i just got back from a 2-mile walk. i realize that may not sound terribly impressive, but to me, it’s a fairly big deal. in my life, i want to be more active. i want to be fit and healthy. i want to live a long life with my awesome spousal unit. depression gets in the way. A LOT!

in therapy yesterday, we danced around the ideas of: 1. giving myself permission { whether it’s permission to practice self-care OR permission to be as i am, in that moment, without judgement } and 2. to celebrate/revel in/ be proud of little victories { REALLY DIFFICULT CONCEPTS FOR ME}

the universe must really want me to take those lessons to heart, because not only did i share { in solidarity } this with a co-worker, but one of my “regular sites” featured this post on how “tracking positivity” can help with depression.  so here i am, celebrating my little victory with the universe.

an amazing mentor { and friend  AND founder of The Women’s Intelligence Project } shared an enlightening piece Centering Wellness: Reimagining Justice, Care and Change Making Professions. the author, jardana peacock,  is speaking specifically about fields of work when she stares:

“we must see our work as trauma work.

We often experience that trauma as overwhelm, anxiety and stress. Compound that with personal trauma(s) and we are headed toward breakdown and burnout.

Without an emphasis on wellness, folks will continue to suffer exponentially from burnout, anxiety, and spiritual malaise….

The truth is trauma never goes away. Trauma will always exist in our world and in our bodies. Self-care/Community-care, wellness and spiritual practices will, however, provide a container of healing.”

this is what i am attempting to do: practice self-care. i want to heal.

The grange watercolor female profile

Hine ma tov. { .הִנֵּה מַה טוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אָחִים גַּם יַחַד }

behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren { sistren–yes, it’s a word } to dwell in unity.  this song, this psalm, is one of the first i learned in hebrew. how deep, how rich, how resonant the words vibrate in my soul when sung. perhaps it is the gradual lengthening of days, the bursting forth of new life, the whispers of spring that are stirring a desire inside me to connect with others…

a few days ago, as i’m scrolling through my facebook feed, several posts have reminded me of how important it is to have community. whether it’s the outpouring of birthday wishes, the uploaded photos, the individual status updates–i’m reminded that i’ve become a rather isolated individual.  i truly don’t want to be, yet i find myself thousands of miles away from my family; at least 3+ years since i’ve seen either of my longest-friends { hi R & A! } ;  watching as others form bonds of kinship.

sometimes i’m not very good at articulating how i feel, so i have to borrow words. these words, from Paul Rogat Loeb, succinctly summarize what i’m attempting to say: We become human only in the company of other human beings.  And this involves both opening our hearts and giving voice to our deepest convictions. …When we shrink from the world, our souls shrink, too. 

i fear my soul is shrinking.

diving deeper

i know i write a lot about depression. it’s inevitable, given that it is part of my life. and, unfortunately, it happens to be a part of the lives of many of those i love and hold dear.  my last 2 posts were literally just giant passages from the book i’ve been reading { the noonday demon: an atlas of depression by andrew solomon } that i basically wanted to “bookmark” for reference later. this post is more of a reflection on a short passage i encountered a couple of days ago, and have been mulling over ever since.

“Children of depressed mothers may suffer not only depression but also attention deficit disorder, separation anxiety, and conduct disorder. They do badly in social and academic situations, even if they are intelligent and have some attractive qualities of personality. They have unusually high levels of physical complaints- allergies, asthma, frequent colds, severe headaches, stomach aches- and complain of feeling unsafe. They are often paranoid,” {pgs. 181-182}.

this excerpt is not only talking about  the child in their youth, but also within the greater context of becoming a depressed adult. and it describes CHILD ME to a tee: Read the rest of this entry

meditations on ashes & dust

i have always loved the liturgical season of lent. a drawing within; deep introspection and solitude in anticipation of easter. i attended an ash wednesday service last night–for the past 3 or 4 years, it is one of the only times i still attend church, the other time being good friday. during the service, a blessing was shared, and i continue to reflect on its words even now:

{ from Circle of Grace, by jan richardson }

Return
Remember.
You were built for this,
the ancient path
inscribed upon your bones,
the persistent pattern
echoing in your heartbeat.

Let this be the season
you turn your face
toward the One who calls to you:

Return, return.

Let this be the day
you open wide your arms
to the wind that knows
how to bear you
home.

i went up to receive the imposition of ashes { when the pastor/minister places a small cross in ash upon the forehead to remember/contemplate both our origin- dust/ash, and our destination- dust/ash } and then returned to my seat. later, as i drove home, i was reminded of other writings which speak to just how marvelous ashes & dust can be, which i will leave below:

  • I would rather be ashes than dust!
    I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
    I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
    The function of man is to live, not to exist.
    I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
    I shall use my time.  { jack london }

 

  • The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff. { carl sagan}

 

  • The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust. { neil degrasse tyson }

 

branded: becoming my own “brand”

about a month ago, i went to PAX { for those not in on the “lingo”, PAX is the Penny Arcade Expo, a huge west-coast celebration of all things nerdy, focused predominantly on video gaming }. in the weeks leading up to the big event, i began watching STRIP SEARCH –an internet reality/competition show about web-comic artists produced by Penny Arcade. the main thing i took away from the show { besides how insanely talented all the artists were } was that in order to succeed –as an artist– is you have have HAVE to create an internet presence/ become your own brand.  from blogging, to tweeting, to having an e-shop, to posting on social media sites, the only way to gather a following and maintain that following, is to be on all these sites and to update regularly.

fast forward to PAX. while i was mainly there for the experience, i managed to sit in on several of the panels pertaining to topics i was interested in. while the subjects widely varied { from geek crafts, to LGBTQIA, etc. geek issues }, they all touched AGAIN on the importance of: 1. having an internet presence 2. updating DAILY, even if it’s is something small and insignificant and 3. developing { for lack of a better word} BRAND recognition— link your social media sites to each other, make sure they use similar fonts/colours, tie your “look” together so you present a well-rounded “BRAND”.

and here’s the kicker….if you want to succeed…in pretty much anything, in this digital world, you absolutely HAVE to do all this. or you will fail.

is this really what the world has come to? that the quality of your work/what you produce doesn’t matter/can’t speak for itself…but instead, covering your tech-bases will get you ahead in life??? is this something i must resign myself to? how does one even begin to “brand” oneself to create a coherent package? a unified front? i feel like this is easy to do for a business, but much much harder for an individual…

 

any suggestions?

litany of terror { unemployment edition }

twice, in my life so far { and hopefully never again–knock on wood }, have i been unemployed. not the between-gig-a-and-gig-b or the i-just-quit-a-shitty-job-should-start-looking-for-a-new-one or even the i’m-taking-some-time-off-just-for-me type of unemployment. no, i mean the you-show-up-for-work-to-be-greeted-by-your-manager-“hey-we’re-gonna-have-to-let-you-go” type. the soul crushing type. the, yes, i MAY have hated this job but i still came in everyday and gave it 100% and then you fucked me in the ass type.

this category { if you will } of unemployment sucks major assballs. twice i have gone through this. twice i have had to apply for EDD { unemployment benefits } and SNAP { food stamps } just to get by. twice i have had to face the humiliation of not being able to know how to answer: “so, what do you do?” the emotional scars and anxiety NEVER go away…or, at least, they haven’t gone away yet.

which brings me to the present day–i am utterly & completely terrified of losing my job, once again, and having to face unemployment. my current position is by no means glamourous, nor do i honestly believe it is in any amount of jeopardy, but the looming monster of stress/anxiety/doubt/paranoia which follows former unemployeds { such as myself } finds ways to make me panic.

my job isn’t commissioned-based, per se, but they *DO* keep a running tally of how many successful “conversions” { new  memberships } each employee makes…and it does reflect in your performance reports and can even determine how many hours/shifts per week you receive during leaner times of year. and i’ve have been stuck at 28 conversions for about 2 months now. nevermind the dozens of membership forms i hand out, or how often i talk it up–no one has taken the bait.  which leads me to this morning…

i am scheduled to work from 9:30-5:30, no big deal. however, from 9:30-10:30 i’m scheduled as “misc. event” { ??? } now normally, before the store opens at 10, we will have vendor workshops, but they END AT 10, because the store opens for business. so what in the world is this 9:30-10:30 business???? the previously mentioned monster of stress/anxiety/doubt/paranoia is panicking that this is some type of intervention…i.e. “stein, you aren’t good enough. you need to get your act together or else” or that i will show up and be told, once again, that i’m not needed.

how does one vanquish these demons? can one ever? or does the monster of stress/anxiety/doubt/paranoia follow you forever, once you’ve been through the pain of non-voluntary unemployment???

“guest post”: depression

it’s no secret that many of us battle day-in-day-out with various forms and degrees of depression. i have been thinking a lot, recently, of my own on going battle with the disease that lies { as i prefer to call it }. instead of giving you all the long, drawn out history, i’m going to attempt to condense it all into brief tidbits, and then allow the “guest posts” { aka other bloggers/webcomics  i will gladly give full credit to } to speak their truths in a more enjoyable way.

my mother claims i always battled the “dark and morose” feelings and was an emotional rollercoaster even at the tender age of 4. in my own recollection, the onslaught of the disease that lies began my senior year of high school, and manifested itself as crazy, brutal, epic panic attacks of doom! { registered trademark } that sent me home on a semi-regular basis. i was overwhelmed with the thought of dying–and not in the suicidal way– no no, i was CONVINCED that i was about to die, any second. driving home from school, i would chant mantras of “please let me live until my parents come home so i can tell them i love them” or “please don’t let me die, because then my car will careen out of control and take innocent people with me”….it was horrible, and followed me through several states and into my early college career. the anxiety difused, but never fully went away { every once in a blue moon, i still get an epic attack }, instead turning into a constant monologue of self-deprecation and doubt.

this general “depression” was made worse by a year of non-voluntary, semi-confinement { also known as teaching english in a foreign country } wear my nearest native-english speaking neighbour was a 20 minute drive away, i didn’t have a car for the first 4 months, and said person was a misogynist chode. matters were made worse by the committee of elderly “gentlemen” who were my direct supervisors and made me feel like shit about myself for not being the MALE TEACHER they had requested. so enduring a year of this, on top of recovering from major anxiety, and plagued with all sorts of other demons, has left me more broken than i would be…which is unfortunate in that, besides the suckitude of making me feel isolated and unworthy and alone, that year abroad was actually quite an amazing experience. had i been placed somewhere more central, or with less old-fashioned, misogynist bosses, i’d be way better adapted.

SIGH. which brings me to the “guest” part of this post….because all these amazing people are going through similar feelings that i deal with at least on a weekly basis.

the admirable wil wheaton from his blog/mini-empire wilwheaton.net : an excerpt:   I haven’t ever felt suicidal, but I do have Depression and Anxiety. I suffered for no good reason for decades, until I couldn’t reconcile my awesome life with feeling terrible all the time. Talking therapy wasn’t ever enough for me, and I was very resistant to medication, because I believed (and continue to believe) that we are an over-medicated culture.

another incredible person the bloggess { aka jenny larson } updates often on her struggles, so i’m including not one, but TWO links…this one is about depression greeting cards and brings awareness to national mental health awareness week.  this one is more introspective, and really brings home the message that **depression lies**—When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t.  We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.

finally, for those of you who are more visual, i give you “adventures in depression” by the fabulous webcomic artist/site hyberbole and a halfthis is just part one of her journey, which is concluded in her most recent post “depression: part two”, where she so aptly describes what suffering from the disease that lies is really like: At first, I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.

with that, i leave you with this panel from hyperbole and a halfDEPRESSIONTWO8.2