Things Better Left Unsaid

There are some things you just do.not.do to a person who suffers from depression and anxiety. Some things you just do.not.say. Believe me, we hear it all the time as it is — from our own minds. Our “sock monkeys”, “jerk brain”, “psychotic roommate”, “demon”, etc. Many of us have a term for those voices in our heads that, if we’re somewhere close to stable, have managed to dial down to faint hum but are always in the background, muttering.

Muttering things like, “you’re not good enough”, “no one wants you around”, “why even try?”, “maybe you should make another attempt, and do it right this time”. A friend of mine had a bad day, and posted about her anxiety sock monkey giving her a hard time. Her friends commented, boosting her up, sharing their experiences with the same kind of thing….doing what friends do. Doing the RIGHT THINGS for someone that was suffering and having a bad day. Another friend posted about having a tough time accepting herself — and the same thing happened. Compassion is a beautiful thing to see, especially in relation to anxiety sock monkeys.

Then I posted about mine. I said I was feeling lonely – and whether it was loneliness caused by my anxiety sock monkeys working overtime or some other reason…I was also treated with compassion and other friends shared that they too also felt the same way at times. It helped to a certain extent, knowing I wasn’t alone — even though the loneliness remained. There’s no magic pill that suddenly makes everything better, especially when you’re already suffering a downturn in depression.

(I’m coming to my main point, but this is an important tangent. Part of all this is that I was told I “share too much”. Really…I wonder how many of my readers — those who are actually on my Facebook and consider themselves my friends — know just how deep into a depression I’ve fallen. Have I shared that? Can you tell? Have I actually said anything, to anyone? I don’t think so. Not until this very moment have I said one thing to anyone…that’s how close I play it. I post a lot but rarely do I “core dump”. This….this is a core dump.”)

Ok, where was I? Oh yes. So I made the post, went on with my life. I didn’t expect anything from it – I was getting something off my chest, letting out a little of the darkness and I felt better. Now, one of the cardinal sins in mental health is giving an actual voice to those sock monkeys — literally say to a person who is suffering: “Maybe you’re lonely because you really are {insert anxiety reason here}”.

*record scratch* *blinkblinkblink*

WAIT. WHAT? SAY THAT AGAIN?

WTF Jackie Chan

It’s taken me an entire day to process this entire conversation. I’ve slept on it. Talked about it with other friends. Gone over it in my mind, word for word. Made sure I didn’t take it the wrong way. Nope. Armchair psychoanalysis is DANGEROUS, man. Dangerous. And it’s a damn good fucking thing I’m as stable as I am (even though I’m struggling, STRUGGLING, right now). I realize I’m struggling. I know I’m struggling and that I’m hurting and depressed and freaking falling and I know the abyss is over there, in the corner, beckoning. That’s STABLE, because I KNOW IT. I’m so fucking aware of how close to the edge I am. I’m grounding and centering and BREATHING and meditating and doing everything I can to keep myself together.

And I’m suddenly told, “Maybe the reason you’re lonely is because {insert anxiety reason here}”. Jeez, lady. Why don’t you just hand me the fucking gun? Why don’t you just put a pharmacopeia into my hand? ‘Cuz you just freaking pushed a suicide survivor (and you know the recidivism rate on those?) two more feet toward the edge….and “I like to psychoanalyze people so I’m really just trying to help you.”

First off: I have a therapist and psychiatrist, thank you. Second: I have a psychology degree and post-graduate education and training. Only thing you’re qualified to analyze is rocks. Third: Fuck you. Really…fuck you. Seriously? ARE YOU SERIOUS? You actually thought that saying that to me was HELPFUL? How, exactly, was that supposed to be helpful? I’ll wait while you come up with an answer. Especially since I’ve ‘overshared’ and you already know my past and the reasons I suffer from PTSD and all the shit….so, come on. How was that “helpful”?

Whew. OK. I’m done being pissed off and writing about this because people — really — THINK before you speak. Chris Cornell just committed suicide, so all the memes and posts about suicide prevention are going around again. As a survivor, I can tell you that when someone is really, truly ready — they’re not going to call a hotline or a friend unless they have a moment of clarity and those moments are fleeting. And if a person is struggling with the decision, or just struggling in general and are having thoughts — a careless, thoughtless, “helpful” person saying something like what was said to me just might be the ammunition needed to push them over the edge.

This is a warning, so to speak. If you have a friend or acquaintance that is depressed and suffering and you don’t know what to say or do, and you’re afraid they’re possibly going to attempt suicide — GO TO THEM. Don’t wait for them to come to you because they won’t. Don’t berate them, don’t list all their character flaws or all the ways they make you crazy or frustrate you. Don’t criticise them or tear them down. DON’T use their honest Facebook posts against them. DO tell them they matter, that you care, that you love them, that you want them around even if they’re sad or anxious or feeling like a slug.

Words matter. How you use them matter. The people you use them with, and to, matter. Think before you speak.

Hijab for a Day, the Alabama Way

Today is World Hijab Day so as a sign of solidarity, I wore hijab. I occasionally cover my head either for fashion or for protection as I am very fair and prone to sunburn. I shaved my head last February to raise funds for St. Baldrick’s and wore bandannas and scarves throughout the summer, sometimes wrapping like a tichel, sometimes just winging it. Wearing hijab wasn’t too far a stretch from what I’ve been doing so I decided, why not? I’ve been protesting our country’s despicable mistreatment of refugees and immigrants ever since Donald Trump was a candidate.

I live in Alabama. That could mean that I’d get a lot of flack for it, even as a white woman. However, my city (Birmingham) just declared itself as a Sanctuary City so while Alabama is seen as backwards and racially divided and divisive (and is, in many ways and parts), Birmingham itself is a bit more progressive and dare I say it: a little blue dot in a giant sea of red. Still, I was a little nervous as I went out to run my errands, which included a visit to *gulp* Walmart.

Now, I’m used to being stared at. Before I shaved my head, my hair was blue, aqua, purple, and down to my waist. Then with a shaved head tucked under a hat or bandanna or scarf – people often thought I was a cancer patient and I had to correct that misperception. I did get some looks, a couple of turned heads but no problems. No one said anything TO me but one woman decided to take her child and their food home from McDonald’s rather than eat it there after taking a good long look at me.

So that was my experience with hijab for a day. I may do it again, depending on the weather and my clothes. I overheat too quickly and can’t imagine a sweaty sticky hijab is attractive on anyone.

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2017, Still here

I’ve been quiet, I know. It seems to be my modus operandi – I start blogging and have a lot to say and then I get quiet. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just — I felt like all I was saying was the same thing, over and over and over. Fuck Trump, fuck this upcoming administration, fuck this whole goddamned establishment and it’s anti-woman, anti-other, anti-environment, just plain ANTI platform of hate.

I needed to reset. I still feel the same way, but needed to stop the loop of that mantra. Be a little more positive, y’know? Even though damn, I’m still pissed off as fuck and gonna fight to the bitter end.

So I’m still here. I made it to 2017. Lets see what this year has in store for me, eh?

*ha*

 

 

Dog Shit. Just Dog Shit

**Warning — discussion of dog poop to follow. Really. I’m talking about dog poop.**
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Now. as I have four dogs currently living with me, I have a lot of poop to scoop up. Picking up after Bella is like picking up after a horse. Quite literally the size of horse apples. I’m not all that surprised by that, she’s a big dog. I’d rather muck a horse stall, though. I don’t mind the smell of horse manure, rather I find it pleasant and earthy. Maybe it’s just because I loved horses so much as a kid and I associate the smell of horse manure with my time working in the barns and now with gardening and growth. Horse (and cow) manure = growth so…good stuff. Rottweiler turds, however, not the same. Same size, wholly different smell and I don’t want them anywhere near my compost pile, thank you very much. 
What’s confusing and bemusing is that Pix, the 5 lb rescue Chihuahua makes piles as big as Joker and Gypsy. What the HELL? Joker is 60 lbs, Gypsy is 40. I feed them both the same amount, since Gypsy is so active and lean. I can even tell the difference between her piles and his. Pix is elderly, gets fed way less and her raw food is ground up since her teeth are terrible and yet — you should see the size of her piles! How on earth does she manage to fit all that in her tiny little body? Does she even have intestines that fit all that…where? I’m just…HOW?
Baffling. Absolutely baffling.
Just be glad I didn’t take a photo.

Obama Ringtones

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zx3vjocyxi5wm0j/AAAmwPpIGqmZ6MUj2aOKW5E6a?dl=0

Originally posted from Regretsy (oh…how you are missed):
3 years ago, I made an awesome discovery: the audiobook version of Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father.
The main draw of the audiobook is that it’s actually narrated by Obama. It’s interesting to hear him imitate the voices of some of the people that have been important in his life. Like Ray, for example.
Ray, a former high school classmate, was savvy and streetwise, with a new take on black culture and white America. Best of all, Ray had an extremely colorful manner of self-expression. In other words, he cursed. A lot.
That means the President curses. A lot.
In fact you’re about to hear the POTUS swear like a motherfucker.
When I first posted these, about 8 months before I started Regretsy, I got over 30 million hits and a lot of hate mail. So before you decide to write me a long boring email I’ll need help to read, ask yourself one thing:

Which one is your new ringtone? 
(I have added what they say in parenthesis so you can choose whether you really want it. Because when this comes out over your phone in mixed company…well…you can imagine.)

White Folks (“There are white folks, and then there are ignorant motherfuckers like you.”)

You Can Have My Number (“Sure you can have my number baby”)

Nothin’ on Me (“Now you know that guy ain’t shit. Sorry ass motherfucker ain’t got nothin’ on me, right? Nothin’.”)

Too Complicated  (“This shit’s  getting way too complicated to me”)

Buy Your Own  Fries (“You ain’t my bitch, nigga. Buy your own damn fries”)

 

If the Wind Will Not Serve, Take to the Oars

Reposted from http://www.notesfromberingia.com/if-the-wind-will-not-serve-take-to-the-oars/ as the server keeps going down due to traffic. So here’s a backup.

Destitutus ventis, remos adhibe (Latin proverb)

As a nation, we are embarking on—to put it mildly—an unfortunate political experiment. Through the electoral college, and against the popular vote, we have elected a president who is probably the least qualified ever to hold that office. And if that is not enough, the people with whom he surrounds himself are also questionably tethered to the realities of the world the rest of us live in. Some people are saying that the inmates are in charge of the asylum. The problem is that the majority of the rest of us, who clearly did not want to see Trump as president, are locked in here with them. Right now, the most important question to me is how badly will he and his cronies damage our country? And, next in importance, how much will we let them?

I respect the office, but I have zero respect for the person who is next to hold it. That respect has to be earned, and he’s begun in a hole so deep I don’t think he can climb out. I won’t waste time monitoring that progress. I am usually an optimist and look for the silver lining (lemonade and all that), but there are notably few here. Term limits would be nice to see, but I’m not holding my breath that Congress will pass anything there. Short-term market boosts from promises to cut taxes and revoke Dodd-Frank will appear. (Shouldn’t we be decreasing the likelihood of another global meltdown from the financial industry? And another round of tax cuts for the wealthy, another experiment with the utterly failed concept of trickle-down economics?) What suckers so many voters have been. I just wish that the forthcoming buyers’ remorse could be restricted to Trump’s supporters.

But I am not here to wag my finger at the voters who brought this about. We have bigger problems now. About 60.35 million voted for Trump; ~60.98 million voted for Clinton. 46.9% of registered voters did not vote, and the U.S. has a population of 324.97 million. Yes, ~18.6% of the U.S. population, less than one in five, has set us on this course. There are several big problems right there. But we’re here, and we all need to work our way through it. I’d like to say work our way forward, but that will be true only in a time sense; we are going to go backwards in many other respects. I am a man of no party, but I find myself strongly against one now, at least at the national level.

We will begin this experiment from a negative start, in several ways. First, consider the negativity against so many people and against government itself. There is a lot of good in both, but much of that will get squashed in an orgy of righteousness. Then there are the negatives inherent in the incoming administration with respect to reality. Many of the promises made and desires expressed are blatantly against the Constitution. If pursued, these will likely initiate constitutional crises, as explained here and here.

Also, I am a scientist, and I look at an incoming president who has stated that climate change is a hoax and a vice president who doesn’t believe in evolution. Those positions defy reality and are scientifically indefensible. Let’s hope we can find some common ground to build on. Otherwise we’ll waste a lot of time squabbling fruitlessly and more people will eventually learn that you can’t deny realities like climate change and evolution without real life-and-death consequences. In some distant future we can have more power over these phenomena, but right now we have to work on mitigating the negative effects of both.

With Trump’s character being so outlandishly poor in so many respects, attacks on that character (ad hominem attacks) will be dismissed by his supporters along with the more important issues we carry along behind them. So we have to bypass that path, however tempting, and focus on the issues themselves. There are a number of things looming on the horizon that were not there before.

Here are some of the big issues that come to my mind as things we need to watch.
(And by “watch” I mean pay close attention and fight like hell for what is right.)

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• This incoming administration plays so fast and loose with reality, truth, and social mores that we’re likely to see ethical and legal transgressions on an unprecedented scale. Holding everyone accountable to the rule of law will be critical. And, yes, I hear some of you thinking the “Lock her up!” chant. We all need to recognize false equivalencies for what they are. They got us into trouble and shouldn’t—we can measure this stuff. For example, people call out Trump for being a liar; others respond well, Clinton lies too. Yep. Unfortunately, it’s a human trait—we all do. But the scale is important, and Trump is far and away in the lead. This is going to be an ongoing problem for the rest of us.

• Womens’ rights, the rights of minorities, and the rights of people who are different (e.g., handicapped, LGBT) will suffer. I also worry about social standards and the normalization of behaviors that erode civility and tolerance. I am strongly opposed to seeing this erosion. We need to uphold our values and live them. I am not suggesting we need thought police. Think whatever you want. But those who are purposefully hurtful to other people need to be called on it and ostracized or jailed, as appropriate. We have these things called the Declaration of Independence (e.g., “all men are created equal,” etc.) and the Bill of Rights (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” etc.). In addition, we have over two centuries of subsequent progress on how we should treat each other.

• Further U.S. progress on mitigating the effects of climate change are on hold, exacerbating the toll.

• We’re already revisiting the re-implementation of torture.

• In ordinary times, a partisan FBI and Russian hacking would dominate the news and the to-do list of government. Oh, the good old days.

• We could be in another hot war, probably with Iran, in the next few years. It would be highly beneficial to large numbers of lives if our disagreements could continue to be settled through diplomacy. The likelihood of nuclear weapons being used just went up.

• We’re not getting most of those jobs back from China; the ones we can are already coming. And Mexico’s share of illegal immigration has been declining for years. Historically, these were important issues. Increasing the time and money focused on them now is probably wasted.

Natural gas killed coal. Technology has depressed manufacturing and other jobs. Trade can too, even while overall being a win-win for trading partners. Let’s do cost-benefit analyses, sure, but let’s focus on solutions, not try to wind the clock back. Markets and economies change. Let’s be proactive and train workers for the 21st century economy.

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• American health care will get worse, not better. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is an imperfect attempt to curb the outrageous costs of the U.S. health care system. While it has slowed the growth rate of cost increases, we still pay more and get less bang-for-buck than any developed country. (In fact, we grossly outspend other developed countries and have lower life expectancy to boot!) Under the Trump administration we’re likely to remove the band aid and re-open the wound so more health-care dollars hemorrhage into the pockets of big corporations rather than make Americans healthier. So many other countries have demonstrated that this can be done with far greater efficiency than we do it; we’re almost certainly going to go backwards here. And among the first signs that buyers’ remorse is just around the corner is Paul Ryan’s proposal to privatize Medicare. Talk about skewering your loyal voters straight in the heart. Get used to it.

• Re-investing in our national infrastructure is much needed (but would have finally happened under either administration). Privatizing transportation infrastructure like highways and bridges is not a good answer, because we wind up paying more for it.

• We were not given a choice about having a look at Trump’s taxes. But we do know that his conflicts of interest in his businesses with foreign powers are huge, and those have to be dealt with because they can be effectively used by foreign powers to influence our government. Similarly, he and his family have major conflicts of interest in leading government and running their businesses simultaneously. Ideally, they would put their businesses into a blind trust while they governed, and at least that seems to be being discussed.

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We don’t need to increase our military budget. We should be looking for ways to decrease it. “The United States spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined.

• The vaunted Republican goal of lowering the deficit, conveniently abandoned during the last Republican administration, by the way, is much less likely to be achieved under Trump’s economic plan. Increasing economic disparities among Americans is not the way to square this issue, although these will be among the first solutions proposed.

• Mollycoddling of dictators.

• Further decline in sensible restrictions on gun ownership.

That’s a long list of big issues—serious headwinds. More than I think we would have had if the election had gone the other way. Despondency is not the answer for those who opposed this campaign. Nor is jubilation if your side won; it is unlikely you will get what you hoped for. And nor is sitting on the sidelines or not being informed or not voting. The answer is to fight every single day for what is right, legally and morally. Just because we’re headed into a dry spell of leadership in those areas doesn’t change who we are as individuals and as a people. Nor should we acquiesce to the Republican party’s platform, many planks of which are extreme and do not reflect the opinions of the majority of Americans. Reinstate Glass-Steagall? Absolutely. Overturn the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage? Push for Bible study in public schools? No. Nobody’s religious views should be foisted off on the rest of the country, especially through government. Nor should we accept policies that increase income disparities in the country, one of the fundamental reasons people are so unhappy with the status quo (though things were finally improving).

I am not nearly as pessimistic as Andrew Sullivan. There’s a lot of drama out there (though to be fair, he is a member of a persecuted group). My feeling is that in a local respect our personal, tiny pocket of the universe here in Fairbanks, Alaska is not going to be hugely affected by this pending federal administration. Part of that is white privilege, and part is that our state economy is so terrible right now that we have much bigger problems at hand. But as engaged citizens of the country and the world, Rose and I cringe at the pending damage to our country and its institutions that we’re pretty confident this incoming administration will cause. Our resilience will be tested, as will yours.

So take to the oars. And remember that they can be used in many ways.