Sunday, 11 June 2017

Dire Wolf - Dire Self

I'm in a period of introspection and reality awareness ever since the death of Chris Cornell. He was my age. He had money, a career, a family that loved him, more than most people on this planet, yet he still chose to take his life.

Robin Williams was another devastating loss. He had fame, a family that loved him, wealth, friends, and yet, he too ended his life.

They say that money does not buy happiness. I think that should read money does not defeat depression and pain. There are many stages and versions of depression.

There's the blues, the Yorkie (4 pounds) of depression, something you can kick off in a day or too where you feel, meh.

Then there is the Miniature Poodle (15 pounds) of depression; lasts a few days longer but still something you can exercise away when you increase your dopamine levels naturally. This is usually situationally based; loss of a job promotion, breakup of a relationship, different expectations of outcome.

Next is the Bulldog (32 pounds) of depression. This is when you are depressed for more than two weeks and you cannot pull yourself out of it. Nothing matters. You don't clean yourself, you don't get out of bed and you don't go to work. At this point, you need help. Sometimes you cycle a few weeks of the year and the rest is fine. Sometimes this happens once and you are good.

Then comes the Irish Setter (70 pounds) of depression. You are longer in the depressed state than out of it, but you can still come out of it. This is serious depression where nothing matters. Nothing good lives in this state, but you have no control over how long it lasts or if it goes away. You hurt, physically, emotionally and in your soul.

Last is the English Mastiff (150 pounds) of depression. This is the end state of depression where no matter how good life is, nothing can pull you out. Medication is usually tried, upwards of 50 or more, to find the correct one to balance your mood. If you are lucky, you find the right one and you coast. Life is good, you are content, balanced, but you need the medication to live. Then, something catastrophic happens. You lose a child or a partner. You have now bypassed all stages of depression and come to the Dire Wolf of grief and depression.

The pain is so overwhelming that you want to tear your skin off just to feel something else. Anything else. You vacillate between pain and numbness. Basic human needs fall to the wayside. You might remember to eat, or bathe, or brush your teeth. You might still work and grow comfortably numb for 9 hours a day, shutting off the emotions, tramping those suckers down so hard and so deep that you can effectively bury them without losing momentum on projects at work.

But you go home and you think. You watch a movie and you see a face that resembles the person you lost. And you sob, lying on the floor wanting it to end. Not necessarily wanting your life to end, but the pain. The gouging, tearing, ripping pain the clutches at your soul piece by piece. After a few days, you grow numb again. Until the next reminder, or worse, the next catastrophic event like being diagnosed with a chronic illness that will render you a vegetable in a few years time. Then, that is the point when some people say, enough.

No more pain. No more suffering. No more Dire Wolf tearing at my throat.

Robin Williams said "I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone."

A lot of people with chronic pain or illness, or serious illnesses end up alone. Friends and family cut you off, and when you need them the most, these people scatter. I have heard story after story of kids abandoning parents, siblings cutting other siblings out, friends, best friends leaving the wounded and the weak, like somehow what's happened is catching.

And it is a Catch-22. Depressed and grieving people want to be alone. They want to disappear in a time and space of nothingness. They need to grieve, sometimes for years. It is difficult being around a person like that. Believe me, if I had a choice I wouldn't be near me either. But the burden that is placed on the partner or the children of the grieving is so incredibly difficult and stressful, and usually these people, these loved ones are collateral damage, because family and friends don't just cut off the victim of the Dire Wolf, but everyone else that stays and supports the severely depressed.

I wrote this in terms so that people might understand what depression can be, for people who have had the fortunate alignment of the right stars at the right time and have never been depressed.

I wrote on FB one day, "If you think you know what depression is, you don't. If you think you know what suicidal depression is, you still don't".

Reach out if someone is hurting. Your words, your sitting in silence, your presence might make a difference.

And if you are the one with the Dire Wolf at your heels, please reach out until someone listens.

And, last, if you know your brother, sister, mother, father, uncle or friend is a caregiver, reach out to them too. You can make a difference.

Suicide Hotline USA: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Hotline MB: 1-877-435-7170....seems like all the provinces have their own.

Saturday, 8 April 2017


I was in a bit of a quandary as to where to blog this; here or on my website Only Five Star Book Reviews. Either would have been appropriate, but I still don't know if I am going to write a book review or an op-ed piece on the content. And, I guess I figured it will be a better fit here, because I can talk about anything, not just the writing, the characters, the pace, the story line, the theme, plot or a myriad of other writerly things.

I watched the Neflix series in two days while I was at home convalescing after a somewhat serious heart condition. I cocoon and nest when I am ill because I have learned through life the only person I can truly rely on is myself. So I hide. I don't want anyone to see me and I become paralyzed until the sympathetic nervous system finally lets go a week or two later. So, for a week or so I binge watch TV, sleep and read. Is it healthy? I don't know. Does it work? Yup.

So during this time I watched 13 Reasons Why. It was profound, sad, frustrating, and so many other things that I do not have words for it. Someone mentioned on my FB post that his daughter watched it and was angry about it. I wondered why. Why would this story of a young girl being bullied, sexually assaulted, lied about and abused make someone angry.

Sadly, this is high school. It was like this when I went. It was like this when my children went, and I bet it's the same now. There was nothing this girl experienced that a million other girls didn't experience. The difference being, however, now we get photographic proof, or video proof and this abuse follows you home. It's on your laptop, your phone, on every phone in the high school. The proof stays there forever. Thirty years later, you can google and find that video of you being sexually assaulted.

And the whispers never stop. You walk into a room and the room goes silent. You know they were just talking about how you gave John a blowjob in the playground last night. Even though that didn't happen. You haven't even been kissed yet, but John decides he wants to save his reputation from you turning him down, by telling everyone what a slut you are. And remember. You are not one of them. You are the new kid in school, because your family moves every two years. So you are always the new kid.

Then the jocks think you are easy, so they start hitting on you, trapping you in the hallway, the classroom, outside, anywhere they can. And they touch you. You cannot stop it. Then when you cry, they call you a whore, a bitch, a slut and laugh. This goes to all of their friends and their girlfriends, and suddenly you are walking down the hall and everyone is making rude gestures, leaving nasty photos an notes in your locker, and tweeting it to all of their friends.

You are shopping with your family and one of the jocks mimics a blow job in front of your mother while looking at you. You wince and want to die.

You're at the corner store and someone else walks in, rubs himself on you while grabbing you. You can't move because you are trapped by the counter. He smiles and says something funny.

The next time an older guy you like invites you in for a coke. He's friendly and persuasive , and then gets nasty because you won't touch him. He rips your clothes off an rapes you. Then as you leave he says, "Please don't tell anyone about this." You walk off in a daze, blood running down your leg and you feel like your head is in the clouds. What just happened?

A few days later, a friend of your parents is visiting and he is leaving the bathroom as you open your bedroom door. He goes on his knees in front of you and mimics oral sex. You are 14 and have no clue what that means, but it makes you feel dirty and ugly and you feel like it's your fault.

This happens every single day in North America. And now with President Trump saying he can't stop himself from grabbing beautiful women by the crotch I realize what a different world we live in, men and women.

I read the book after the watching the series (the series was better) and I felt so bad for Hannah thinking she was all alone. Hannah, you are not alone. There are millions of you out there fighting off teachers, parents, uncles, step-fathers, cousins, brothers, landlords, and bosses.

Reading and watching this just reinforced how ugly it can be, to be a teenage girl in this predatory world. It makes me angry that we raise boys to think this is okay and we tell the girls "to get over it."

And then we wonder why depression is so high.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Such As It Is

This is it. This is what we have been given to work with. One life. One year. One Month. One week. One day. One moment.

For some of us, this is a death sentence because we live with mental illness; depression, PTSD, GAD, OCD, ADD, more DDD's but I digress. I always wanted initials after my careful what you wish for, little one. Others live without illness weighing them down. But, as REM says, Everybody Hurts. Life is just harder for some than others. And what are you going to do about it?

Life is short.  Probably a lot shorter than what we had hoped for. I doubt anyone on their death bed shouts "Dammit, why didn't you show up sooner. I was ready 23 years ago. Now look, dinner is cold. And I'm not reheating it."

Nope, I try not to take things too seriously, because, as you all know, it's all downhill from here. Might as well live as hard as you can and for all the right reasons.

If I had to make stuff up (I know, quit laughing) I would say most of my life has been made up of these incredible moments in time with happy, beautiful funny, incredible kids, an outstanding, quirky husband, beautiful, loving dogs, great careers (did I mention ADD.....) and less of the dark, icky, oozy stuff. 

Unfortunately, it is the dark stuff that sticks and sucks me into the abyss. There are moments so black and so bleak that there is no light. I prefer not to think on these. I work them out, one dark piece of twisted, burning metal at a time. Toss it away. Take on the the next piece. Chew on it for a while and it goes into the heap.

Now the happy stuff: my incredible, courageous, loving, patient husband. Without him, I'd be done a long time ago. My children, who have taught me so much in life and have made such an extraordinary difference, my grandchildren who have shown me what's best in life, my dogs, I wish I had enough years to own all the dogs I've ever wanted. My passions, Yoga, horror writing, being an artist, helping others, reading, learning, and my friends. Damn, I love you all. 

Find the happiness. Find the love. Find the hope, the peace, the joy, the passion that you deserve. Do not go through this life wandering and thinking and being desperately alone. Do not give up on yourself or others. Nothing comes to you; you have to fight for it. So go out there and brave the new world. And find the love and laughter for yourself. You deserve it. Baggage or no baggage.