Heavy Luck

Standard

Sometimes you get really fucking lucky and good things happen! You get to do something you love, as a job, and even though you love it and put all your love back into it, it reminds you how much life hurts. Every day.

You thank everyone and everything, out loud and in solitary silence. You acknowledge and apologize for every mistake that you notice yourself make. You constantly try to give back, and hope that you can prove you are capable, maintaining the illusion of confidence and hiding insecurities, knowing that there are so many others that deserve this that don’t have your luck. You try to give your whole body. You feel the impact, within and against the same body you’re told to ignore, starve, or use until it’s worn out. You listen to your body and know when it’s saying you’ve pushed too far. No one else will be so honest, and yet, you struggle to share these important messages with people trying to support you. You feel heavy with everything that’s so very wrong in the world. You say that you are feeling great, and try to sleep and eat when you can, despite the weight of this knowledge

At best, you try to produce beauty; at least, minimize pain. You avoid talking about the past as much as you can, even though being passionate about what you’re doing depends on knowledge that came from that dark place, illuminated by special people you were lucky enough to have love and care for you.

You hope you are creating something good and not making things worse.

Advertisements

Writing and depression

Standard

Welp, it seems I’ve made it. I’m in the process of becoming un-stuck.

For the past 6 months, I was in bed a lot. My waking hours were spent at a computer screen, either while listening to customers yell complaints at me at my call centre job, or while wearily scanning job postings, or (the worst) staring at a blank word document because I could not make myself write. Most of the time, reading was a comfort. There were times when reading was difficult because of the distractions that come with depression and anxiety, but it never reached the point of becoming a chore to avoid. This means that, this time, I did not sink as low as I could have.

I can’t write when I’m depressed. When I try it is just anger and hurt and tears and ink all smudged together on a page. The absence of writing, the only thing that makes me feel competent, drags me down further. Tea, books, and worry push me through the same grey day in a loop. Nothing feels good, most of the time I feel nothing. I can’t produce anything original or even worthy of existence. Instead of my skin, I slice through wet paintings with an x-acto knife. It’s an action I’ve found that makes me feel temporarily together in contrast.

I wrote every day this week. And it’s not garbage! Finally.

Stuck

Standard

I have not written forever, and unfortunately haven’t read my favorite blogs lately, so here I am, about to make excuses.  Friends, my primary excuse is: I’m just sad a lot. I want to write something, all the time, and I want to read, but there is nothing in here (in me). I’m slowly, unenthusiastically doing life, making money to (barely) pay my bills, but feel constantly as if I am cocooned in a blanket in my bed, unable to contribute anything. I’m not helping people like I want and not feeling anything good about myself or the world. I don’t know if saying this somewhere will help at all, but maybe.

I really hope I will be back to writing actual content soon, and I miss reading important things. I am basically emotionally stuck.

 

Dystopian and Utopian fiction suggestions wanted, please?

Standard

I’ve been away from my blog for awhile. I graduated, and was unemployed. I’ve been trying to figure out stuff in my life, and, despite my awesome friends’ best efforts, I spent a few weeks mostly in bed. I am a depressed person, particularly in January and February. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to get a job. It’s nothing to do with either of my degrees, but it’s not nothing, so I guess I can’t complain in this shitty job climate.

While unemployed, I started writing a feminist dystopian novel. I want to do more  research, so I can continue this project. If anyone can suggest any dystopian or utopian novels or series, I would be most appreciative. Marge Piercy is basically my writing idol, but I’ve been trying to read any feminist and YA dystopian fiction that I can get my hands on (and I’m interested in ANYTHING related that people suggest). Tell me what I should read/ what I’m missing out on! Please?

 

 

Defense gifts, shock therapy research, and end of school emotions

Standard

Well, that’s it. Thesis is over. All that’s left of this degree is some annoying paperwork. The defense itself was overwhelming, and it was over so quickly. I got great feedback, and enthusiasm and support for my work. I have just a couple of typos to fix before final submission, and I have to finish writing an abstract. I am just getting over the high of being done and having people really engaged with my work–that felt amazing! It seems that people are interested in criticisms of shock therapy when you can show real evidence of some not-so-pleasant truths. And evidence of connections between  shock, gender, and liberal governance is there in first-hand accounts. It’s really fascinating, and to be able to tell people about that to some extent, and get their responses made me so appreciative of the opportunities grad school has given me. I don’t want it to end, but I know everything I’ve learned will continue to inspire me to keep searching and writing.

On top of having the best thesis committee EVER (this is not an exaggeration), I was fortunate to have a number of amazing friends also come to support me at the defense, and my parents. It is a great feeling to be able to share with them what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years as they helped keep my spirits up.

I have to show off awesome thesis gifts. My partner surprised me with an orchid, and my parents brought me a beautiful antique writing desk from my Mom’s side of the family (it’s what the gifts are sitting on!) I’m planning on using this desk for creative writing specifically; it will be a computer-free space.

Defense gifts!

Defense gifts!

Now time to get a job…

 

24 hours until my thesis defense…

Standard

It’s 24 hours from now. Wow. I’m already missing school. The presentation is supposed to be 25 minutes–I couldn’t believe how many findings that meant I had to cut–and my last 2 practices were 37 and 28 minutes. If I can keep it around 28, I’ll be fine.

I’m so distracted, though, since my parents are on their way and I’m excited to see them plus I’m very nervous plus I NEED to clean if they’re coming here plus this:

Fyodor thinks practice is unnecessary.

Fyodor thinks practice is unnecessary.

I am so very close to being done. EEEK!

 

Troubling thoughts from the “grandfather” of electroconvulsive therapy

Standard

The demographic features of the complainants are interesting. In the published reports and malpractice actions, the plaintiffs are well-educated women, often nurses, with histories of prolonged depressive illness marked by somatic features and suicidal episodes. ECT was the last resort, reluctantly advised and administered, that resulted in relief of depression, physical complaints, and suicide risk. The loss of personal memories is a new focus of illness that is described in painful terms, making return to work impossible. Remarkably, however, the plaintiffs function extremely well in new roles as critics of psychiatry.

-Max Fink, the “Grandfather” of American ECT

This is the quote that inspired me to look specifically at the doctor-patient relationships in first-hand accounts of shock therapy. It comes from an “Perspective” article (most of what Fink has written in the past couple of decades seem to be his opinion; he rarely makes the effort to even give the appearance of scientific evidence anymore). I’m sharing it since I’m getting so close to my thesis defense and I’m procrastinating again, plus we don’t hear a lot about shock (and certainly not criticisms of shock doctors). It’s interesting that in this quote he mentions the gender of the complainants, when he completely ignores gender differentials elsewhere in his writing. Women have consistently made up 70% of patients treated with shock (usually prescribed by male doctors), but Fink tries to bury this. It’s only when he’s positioning them as hysterical that he mentions they are women…

Max Fink seems like a cartoon character… or a politician. He frames ECT doctors as benevolent figures who are victims of increasing regulations into their practice when they just want to help! He gets away with constantly dismissing claims of negative side effects of ECT by former patients by saying they benefit from making these claims, eg:

We can ignore the few former patients who make a career in the antipsychiatry movement. Their complaints have been answered by sober assessments that find no evidence for brain damage in ECT.

Fink never acknowledges how much HE benefits from the perpetuation of electroshock. He’s built his legacy on this practice! He’s developed a film that was sold with shock machines (just one of many examples)!

There’s lots more where this came from, and I’ll probably write more about what Fink has said and done soon, I’ve been waiting to have my thesis done first. I’m excited to continue researching Max Fink, because I’m sure I will find so much that can be useful in criticisms of shock therapy.

Sources:

Fink, M. (2007). Complaints of loss of personal memories after electroconvulsive therapy:  Evidence of a somatoform disorder?  Psychosomatics, 48,4, 290-293. doi: 10.1176/appi.psy.48.4.290

Fink, M. (2002). Move On!. The Journal of Ect, 18, 1, 11.

Some random distractions from writing my thesis defense

Standard

Writing my defense has been… ugh. Presentations, ugh. Not going well, to say the least. I’m sure it will all come together, but as of now I’ve ripped up and deleted so many notes. I really hoped to have a draft together by the end of the night, but I’m not sure it will happen. I’m steeping an excellent green tea blend from my favorite local tea shop as I write this. It has yerba mate, licorice root, lemon grass, ginger and peppermint, and it tastes great and usually makes me very alert, so here’s hoping it works this time! 

On a positive note, I made a painting that I’m really happy with. I have this thing where I can’t paint anything good while I’m in school, so I always get super happy with the first halfway decent one.IMG_0436

Also, I’ve been writing fiction! And dreaming about the world I’ve been imagining, which is pretty weird. 

And finally, here’s Fyodor being cute and distracting:

Yawn face

Yawn face

I hope everyone has an excellent week!

The light at the end of the thesis: Taking a break

Standard

Unemployment does scare the shit out of me. Right now, however, since I worked some 80 hour weeks at the cruise ship job in September and October and rarely buy anything beyond bills, I am voluntarily taking (and enjoying) the month off to work on my thesis defense and get some much-needed restful times. I originally planned for this month off with the understanding I would be using it for major thesis revisions, but since I’m done writing now, I am using it for other creative endeavours (while still spending lots of time and energy planning the defense, of course). I haven’t started freaking out about money (yet)! Hopefully I can find a good job during this break, but if not I have tons of retail/ food service experience so I should be able to find something to keep me going come December…

I’m not sure why I feel it necessary to justify my time off. But I really do, so there it is. How weird is it that I actually get anxiety worrying that people won’t think that I’m working hard? It’s the same sort of anxiety I had when I got my research job–like it’s not fair that I got it when so many people have shitty jobs. Not believing in a meritocracy somehow makes it tough to accept when good work-related things happen.

BUT I really am enjoying it. Time off is fantastic. I wake up slowly, hang out in onesie pajamas while I drink tea and read. And I’m not only reading heavy academic articles; right now I’m reading Capote’s In Cold Blood and really enjoying the descriptions of people from the 1950s. I make good food. I learned how to make lentil samosas using wonton wrappers and they are brilliant! I do errands at a leisurely pace. I continue to drink tea. I have time for school-related meetings. I have time to hang out with friends. I can play with the cats all day in my lovely apartment. I have started regular free-writing sessions hoping that I can shift to writing some fiction that reflects my views of the world.

Since I won’t have much money for Xmas gifts, I’ve taken up a cross-stitch as a hobby and am making personalized (feminist!) gifts while I watch horror movies and psychological thrillers that no one else would be interested in watching with me. Here’s an example, for a friend who likes Emma Goldman a whole lot:

2013-11-13 20.41.20

Feminist cross-stitch success!

I plan on using my sewing machine more, too, and I want to get the paints out tonight or tomorrow. Yay crafting! I’m totally rusty (I haven’t cross-stitched since maybe grade 3), but I think I can make some decent gifts.

Time off: it’s a good thing.