The Neverending Toil

I’m climbing out from under the rock of another depressive episode.  I currently have about a dozen things on my plate, things I have to do, major things, not minor things.  Projects.  Ponies, book edits, covers, formatting for print.  Things that will take days each.  And that’s on top of stuff like keeping my bathroom from looking like the guest toilet in R’lyeh and not burying myself under disposable dinnerware in my bedroom.  It’s a neverending cycle, and no matter how I fight, I can’t keep up.

Every rock has a silver lining? Fuck this.

“Annnd it’s still there. Lovely.”
Image: “Untitled” by Olivier Ortelpa on Flickr.

That’s one of the worst things about depression — or, I suppose, any other debilitating condition — you’re not just dealing with your own cycle of broken or not broken, you’re dealing with the everyday outside world, too, and its rhythms, imposed on you with no regard for your level of ability to cope with it.  It keeps running.  It leaves you to catch up.

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Not Buyin’ It

Last night I had a dream I was in some sort of godforsaken upscale organic food market place, like Whole Foods, and this really cute woman in a nice suit came up to me and tried to sell me her weight loss plan thing.

She was like “We have this revolutionary new system that will allow you to–”

And I was like “Get. The FUCK. Away from me.”

 

Rethinking Thin - Gina Kolata

Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata was the final clue-by-four.

And she kind of backed up and sat down in a chair that was by the wall, eyes wide, and I felt a little bad for being so angry so I explained the whole deal to her. I told her I was an eating disorder survivor, that my body was nobody else’s business unless I chose to make it so, that I might not be happy with it but that it still deserved love and shouldn’t be starved, and that what she was doing — I was adamant on this point — was genuinely hurting people.  And she needed to stop encouraging people to do this to themselves.  And if she was doing it to herself, she needed to stop it.

I told her about the books I’d read that set me straight, took her notebook away and wrote down the names and titles, and gave it back. And because it was a dream, I knew that I had planted the seeds of doubt, and that she would change her mind and stop doing what she was doing.

And I think that was a pretty amazing dream to have. I literally wasn’t buying what she was selling.  I’ve had other dreams like it, but that was especially good.  A dress rehearsal for when I have to meet the new doctor I’ll be seeing late this month, I guess.  I’ve already called the office and explained the deal, and I explained it again on my intake forms, but that doesn’t always do the trick.

So yeah, I think that’s a victory of some kind.  We are at the mercy, in dreams, of what we really think about ourselves.  There’s no filter there.  And yet, all this time, it’s been in dreams I’ve seen the first flashes of acceptance.  Meaning it’s been there the whole time, quietly growing without me knowing about it.  A dream like this is proof of that.  Proof of how far I’ve come.

I am pleased.  I am really pleased.

Victory Conditions

Panic attacks suck.

At one point I had them daily, often multiple times, and for hours each time – but that was a long time ago.  I’m much better now.

I want to talk for a minute about what that really means. What improvement really looks like. Because it doesn’t look like I thought it would, and I don’t see that talked about as much as I would like to.

So here are four vignettes from the last year or so, all of which I consider victories.

FIRST.

I’m at Planned Parenthood, and I am not holding my shit together.  I’m not as triggered by exams as I used to be, so normally this annual bullshit is not a huge issue, but this time I have reason to believe it is going to be a lot worse, involving things that are, like, turbo triggering.  Also, I still have a lot of lingering hostility over some bad shit that went down at a Planned Parenthood many years ago, so I don’t feel safe at their clinics.  I wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as it is, but it’s so bad this time.  I drop the pen three times signing in, my hands are shaking so badly.

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On Gifts

Shunning, Shaming, Renaming is a moving piece by Rachel Cohen-Rottenburg about the power of reclaiming your identity while navigating disability and ostracism. I recommend you read it now.

There seems to be a desire on the part of abled people to try to balance the unpleasantness of disability with a belief that it somehow confers gifts equal or exceeding the burden of illness.  There seems to be a tendency to conflate a person’s mental illness and their gifts, whatever those are, as though the former caused the latter, as though they were inseparable.

There’s also a tendency to say that adversity brings enlightenment – often true – and that therefore adversity is, in itself, a positive thing, even when that takes the form of being severely disabled.  Even when that takes the form of being suicidal.  People want to believe that misfortune bears gifts.  Worse still is when these sentiments are expressed with envy.

I have a big problem with that.

Pirate maps are awesome.

I accomplished this in spite of depression.

The fact that I can bring beauty and goodness out of badness is something beautiful and good about me, not beautiful and good about badness.  It is a skill I developed out of necessity – if I had not, I would get nothing out of it.  If you must fight bears, it’s good to learn to use their hides and bones as armor and weapons.  Better still is not having to fight bears. Continue reading

Study: Stress of Poverty Lowers I.Q.

Poverty consumes mental resources, making people worse at everything.

“Put another way, the condition of poverty imposed a mental burden akin to losing 13 IQ points, or comparable to the cognitive difference that’s been observed between chronic alcoholics and normal adults.”

 Puppies 18
Corgi Puppies! by Naamah Darling on Flickr.
Seriously, the implications of this are upsetting enough to me that I need corgi puppies.
One of these puppies is now a good friend of mine.

This combines into a Voltron-like monstrosity when you factor in the cognitive problems inflicted by chronic pain or debilitating mental illness or any other form of unremitting stress, which are conditions often associated with poverty.

And yet the entire system that is supposed to help people in that situation is set up like one of those Blockhead puzzle games where the pieces do not fit together in any logical way, and we are still supposed to make something normal and perfect out of it.