Tag Archives: depression

Girl Scout Cookies

10 Jan

I am getting ready to go for my second round of chemotherapy. I am dreading it and I know I have to have it. The first round was far more difficult and miserable than I had anticipated. I have to say this is the hardest thing I have ever done, and it makes sense to me why the nurse at the end of the first chemo treatment ended the seven hour session with: “Thank you for coming in and doing this–you did it!.”  As you all know, I named the tumor Pat, short for Patriarchy (we need to kill Pat), and the port in my chest is named Mueller. After the seven hours of chemo, there is one more chemical that is slow release through a pump via Mueller. I have named the pump Nancy Pelosi to help Mueller kill Pat. During the five days of being horribly sick with nausea (and a whole host of other side effects), I have a lot of time for reflection and sadly, sometimes I fear I start to spiral down into a very dark space that does not help me kill Pat. This reflection was spurred on by my wanting to order Girl Scout Cookies.

I love the Do-si-dos and Robert and I both love the thin mints. I told Robert to ask our neighbors to order some Girl Scout Cookies for us. Internally, I did a nose dive into an abyss of fear. My strange and irrational brain went to: “Wait, what if I die and Robert gets stuck with all of the Do-si-dos cookies? He is allergic to peanut butter. Is it irresponsible of me to order the cookies?”

Having cancer really sucks. For me, I constantly worry and I know I have to figure out a different way to navigate this journey. I have started to try some guided meditation. For those reading and have also gone through a similar journey, what are ways you found helpful in coping with the trauma and the everyday perseverating–am I burdening and fatiguing my support network?

My ask is this: support the Girl Scouts, and if people have advice from lived experience, please do share.

Inviting Joy…

21 Dec

JoyI have been working on this particular post for the past few months. 2015 has not been an easy year for me.  Since August 4th, I have lost four very dear friends. Our dear friend Jim passed away on August 4th from liver cancer, leaving a hole in our hearts. A week after Jim passed away my friend Ross, whom I was friends with for 20 years, died of pancreatic cancer. Naomi passed away yesterday and I will miss her terribly. Another significant loss was on December 3 when Beth died of liver cancer. Beth and I had been friends for over 30 years. She was my college girl friend. She would have been 52 yesterday. At times, it is all I can do just to get up in the morning. Throughout the day, it feels as though I have been punched in the stomach. Sadly, it also puts me back in touch with the loss of Bonnie, who was like my twin sister. This much loss is so unsettling that I am working exceedingly hard at staving off depression.

I have been watching and observing friends of mine and my husband and am in awe of their resiliency. These observations have led me to question how do I — how do we all —  invite and make space for joy. For me, this is a task that at times escapes me and seems to grow increasingly difficult.

Being aware of the embarrassing pustule on humanity known as the current Republican party (GOP) only adds to my sense of loss — the loss of common decency in our discourse.  It is exceedingly easy for me to give way to a misanthropic abyss when I think about how the discourse from EVERY Republican presidential candidate participates in and perpetuates racism, homophobia, misogyny, classism, and all of the intersections therein. Let us not forget, this is not just the nefarious Donald Trump, since every candidate believes as Trump does. They may not be quite as vociferous, but they share the same racist, homophobic and misogynistic beliefs. Sadly, even those Republicans who condemn the horrific rhetoric by these presidential hopefuls, still maintain that they will still support the Republican nominee. Yes, even while Paul Ryan slams Trump for  his racist, even Nazi like approach to this race, Ryan will still vote for him. This is more than just a little nonplussing.

So how do you, how do I invite hope, not just hope but how do I invite joy? Here I will share things that actually do bring me joy and I invite all of you readers, how do you invite joy? I want to learn from all of you!

Being in my classrooms teaching MSW students brings me great joy, such joy that I don’t have language to fully articulate how giddy I feel when I watch these students and how they reflect and leverage their privilege for equity. I am in awe of these people and they bring me joy and give me hope.

Spending time with my friends’ children next door brings me joy. Hank (who is only six years old) who grabs onto me and most insistently tells me stories brings me joy. Spending time with my amazing colleagues and friends as we are vulnerable with each other and support one another brings me great joy. Spending time with my husband as we talk, listen, drink wine, and support one another, and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race brings me joy!

My failing seems to be how do I hold on to all of this? How can I keep in contact with all of this joy and sustain my gratitude?

How do all of you do it?

Mental Health and Stigma

8 May

Progressive Health Care

Part of social justice is working to enfranchise marginalized populations.  Sadly, people living with mental health issues are too often marginalized and worry about stigma.  I was even anxious when I talked about my own struggles with depression.  I say with great certainty that most humans either struggle with some form of mental illness, or have family and friends who struggle.

Here in the United States, we can’t even talk about health care for all much less actually talk about treating mental health issues.  Here is where I would like to call attention to the amazing and progressive country of New Zealand.  New Zealand is tackling the issue of mental health with an advertising campaign that is compassionate, humane, and affirming in the attempt to remove stigma.  Click here to see part of this video campaign.

Action steps: not only do we need to make sure the Affordable Health Care Act passes, but we need to expand the act to take care of all of our brothers and sisters.

Chopped

14 Jan

Interesting Cure for Depression

During December I was suffering from yet another depressive episode.  What better way to treat depression than to self-medicate?  My drug of choice for December was to watch the television.  TV has an amazing ability to put one into a fugue like state, thus allowing a slight decrease in anxiety.

Much of the tv I watched was on a channel called the Food Network–two drugs in one, food and tv!  Two shows I became addicted to were, Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten (all my friends are gay–in my my best Edina Monsoon voice) and Chopped.  Chopped is strangely annoying and compelling.  The often blatant misogyny of the usually all male judges causes me to scream at the tv, as does the absolutely bizarre concept of the show.  Contestants receive a mystery basket of “foods” that they have to prepare to  satisfy the judges (chefs) in a limited time frame.

Here is where it gets really bizarre.  An example of the mystery basket of ingredients would be: Ketchup, Cat Urine, and Yellow Marshmallow Peeps.  After 20 minutes alloted time to “transform” these ingredients into a culinary triumph the judges give feedback and then eliminate a contestant before the next round.

Judges feedback: this is where I have to laugh and what compels me to keep watching (probably diagnostic on my part).  Exceedingly arrogant Chef Geoffrey Zakarian (the one with just a bit too much eye mascara) will usually give feedback along the lines of: “While you really made the Ketchup and Marshmallow Peeps come alive in this lovely red/yellow coulis, I’m not sure I’m getting the Cat Urine.”  Then the equally arrogant and misogynistic Chef Scott Conant will counter with his feedback: “I’m getting too much Cat Urine in my dish–that is just not acceptable. And the Ketchup/Peeps coulis just doesn’t work for me.”  The third judge, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli (one of the only female judges) will offer: “I feel like you really tried with this dish.”

While I continue not to be a fan of reality tv, I am compelled to continue to watch Chopped, despite the misogyny  and awful display of white hetero privilege from most of the judges.  The bizarre mystery baskets combined with the laughable and inconsistent feedback serve up a dish that helps to put my depression at bay.

Starting Fresh in 2012: Emerging from the Winter of Our Discontent

1 Jan

A bumpy night? How about a year?!

I began this very personal post yesterday as I reflected on the very bumpy road that was 2011 for my family; in many unfortunate ways our lives reflected the woes of too many Americans who now find themselves without income and in despair.  Despair is an all too easy place for me to go, for I suffer from depression. After taking the time to exorcise some of what had happened, I decided to recast things as a wish for our new year–I hope my story will inspire others that suffer from depression and are currently unemployed due to no fault of their own to focus on the resources and love we have and to work hard to make 2012 a far better year than 2011.

The first week of December, shortly before my birthday, I was having coffee with some very dear friends of mine here in Portland,  Mary and Tamara. They asked if I still wanted to return to Atlanta; my transition here to the Northwest has been fraught with many obstacles and culture shock. As progressive as Portland can be, it is not particularly diverse, and subtle forms of racism and homophobia lurk behind many corners as even well-meaning people overlook their privilege in this bubble of liberalism.

To my great relief and surprise, however, I was able to answer my friends with a resounding NO. I love living here in Portland.  Our lives finally make sense here.  I love social work school and my husband loves his job. We also have legal protections here in Oregon that we will never have in Georgia.

This was eleven months into a tumultuous year. I went through the major process of applying to graduate school and began the adjustment of returning to the other side of the classroom. This came on the heels of months of being rejected for jobs because of my age and experience– painfully ironic.  My husband had a crazy year with major career ups and downs.

Sadly, right after my revelation, things turned upside down. We are now a fully unemployed household in a still perilous economy–a very frightening place to be indeed!  All the uncertainty and trauma I’ve faced in the past two years resurfaced as my husband now begins his job search. I worry about the challenges he will face and how we can be supportive of each other as we emerge from one of the most challenging years of our life together.

I am exceedingly ready for 2011 to come to an end!  As awful as things are right now, I know we are still fortunate!  We have food, we have people who love us, and my husband and I have each other.  We have survived being robbed repeatedly, a transcontinental move, my falling off our roof, and abominable discrimination–we will survive this setback as well.  My New Year’s wish for all those that don’t have equal access to resources, for all those that are oppressed due to race, gender, sexual orientation, and age is that 2012 will bring good energy and change for the better.  I still believe we can make the world better, but we must change the system of a white heterosexual power structure.  My family knows all too well how easy it is to lose your job because of sexual orientation.

My husband and I are dedicated to a happy, successful 2012, we are fortunate enough to have the support of friends and we have an education; with that love, support, and education we hope to overcome the barriers of white heterosexual abuse of power and emerge stronger and better equipped to help others that are disenfranchised. Let’s all look forward to a year of progress and success.  As someone who has battled depression for a lifetime, I hope is that anyone struggling with depression will seek help, be it medical, family, friends–get the support you need.

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