Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

And it’s driving me crazy

Some background

It’s not really new…just new to me. See, when my ex and I were together and I was getting a decent monthly check, we (me, my ex, and her daughter) each got new iPhones. Then her daughter got stupid and ended up in a situation where she’s not going to need her phone for a very long time.

So about 3 months ago, my ex gave it back to me so I could cancel the line and return the phone. Which I still haven’t done.

(I’m not making any excuses, but if you’ve ever suffered the Dementor known as clinical depression, you’ll understand why I haven’t brought myself to return it.)

So all 3 devices were pretty much the same: iPhone 6S Plus. The only difference? I got the one with 16 gigs of memory, while the other two got 32 gigs.

As a result, I’m constantly removing and reinstalling apps from my device.

Then The Lightbulb Lit!

Yesterday I had the brilliant idea of switching phones! I’ll switch to the 32 Gb model!

Before doing so, I figured I’d check the battery level on it. But plugging it into the charger–and since I had already wiped the phone clean and reset it to the original factory settings–as soon as I plugged it in, it went into its start-up mode.

Once I was done with that, it then (automagically) downloaded and installed the latest IOS version…

…which took up the better part of an hour.

If you’re setting up a new iPhone and you already have one, a screen comes up on the new phone. All you have to do is activate the camera on the old one and holding it so that the image on the new one completely fills the screen on the old one.

That triggers the mechanism that copies your settings to the new phone. And once that was done, the new phone asked me if I wanted to restore everything from the recent backup made on the old phone.

Which is what I did, only to discover that only the icons for all the applications and not the apps themselves were restored. So yet another hour was spent as the new phone automatically downloaded the applications (and their data) from the cloud.

Except not all of the data and settings were restored. Several apps required me to go into them and enter my login data. I don’t have an issue with that: after all, it’s a question of account security and they’re just making sure I’m who I say I am.

The problem is that several apps didn’t copy over my settings and preferences to the new phone. So now I’ve got to spend a couple of hours trying to get those apps to function correctly.

Sometimes Technology Sucks

Especially when “upgrading” to a new device. But no worries: I’ve already been singing.

STFU

When it’s umpteen degrees in my bedroom, I’ll take my laptop downstairs to write. Most of the time, it works…but there’s a problem: our house is often the unwilling host to freeloaders, moochers, and other disreputable sorts.

They’re not really bad people, but they insist on trying to talk to me when it’s obvious that I’m working. I really don’t need to get a blow-by-blow description of whatever television show you watched last night.

I’m probably better-informed about local news than you are, so I don’t need to repeating half-truths and rumors.

And while my landlord is perfectly content to have you here—and it should be a clue to how welcome you really are when he disappears into his upstairs bedroom whenever you overstay your welcome (usually 10 minutes after you get here)—neither one of us appreciate you blasting out your crappy taste in music on his computer.

I’m 30 years older than you are and I don’t enjoy the same taste in music as y0u do. That’s why you have a fucking smart-phone. USE IT.

In short, pull your heads out of your collective asses and realize that you are not the only people in the house. Have some consideration for others—especially since it’s NOT YOUR HOUSE!

And why don’t I copy the landlord and retreat to my bedroom? A couple of reasons:

  1. I pay rent to live here. You don’t.
  2. Then there is the matter of things disappearing whenever you’re left unattended in the house. I just don’t feel safe with you here.
  3. The two of us who live here do things a certain way for certain reasons: we DO NOT need you coming in and changing things. If there’s a window closed, LEAVE IT CLOSED! I know this is a difficult concept, but THIS IS NOT YOUR HOUSE!
  4. I get $15 a month in food stamps, so please don’t eat my food!

But The Really Big Thing is This

I am trying to deal with several mental issues. Among them are social anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. It’s hard for me to be around people. THIS HOUSE IS MY SANCTUARY, my safe space. You have invaded it, and I no longer feel safe in my own house!

So I’m going to propose a solution: I’m going to have a serious discussion with my landlord about your freeloading ways and how they are affecting my health and well-being.

And on another note: STOP STORING YOUR WHOLE WATERMELON IN THE REFRIGERATOR!  It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and it takes up space that I—who actually pay money to be here—desperately need for my own food.

This is going to piss off a lot of readers, but I don’t care. The people it will piss off are the ones who have already pissed me off by their uneducated, ignorant claim in the first place.

The first thing I’m going to say that will piss them off is this:

If you have never been plagued by depression, or never watched a loved one crippled by this disease, kindly shut the fuck up.

I can’t state this enough. You have no business pontificating on a subject about which you know nothing. And by making your statement, all I hear is, “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’m going to give you my opinion anyway, because I know more about it than you do.”

I hate to burst your bubble, but here’s an uncomfortable truth: People with depression don’t want to die!

People with depression don’t want to die!

Here’s the thing: on both occasions I tried suicide, it wasn’t because I wanted to die; I simply wanted the pain to stop. I was in a place where I could no longer think rationally. After all, do you really think that if I could see any other solution I wouldn’t have chosen it instead?

And that, dear friends and critics, is the difference between my depression and your “sanity:” the inability to think clearly and rationally. Did I really want to die? Did I consider how my death would affect my family? My friends?

Of course I didn’t: I was so overwhelmed by my depression and its pain and agony that I was incapable of any thought at all, much less rational thought.

Was I a coward? Or was I in a state where suicide was my only rational choice?

Do you see the contradiction here? That I was in such pain that I was incapable of clear, rational thought that to me, suicide seemed to be the only rational solution.

Unless you’ve been there, you won’t understand. And being there, you don’t see any other solution. Which is why depression can so often be a fatal disease.

So before you call suicide “Cowardly,” or “The easy way out,” or any other stupid thing, stop and think: what would you do if you saw no other way out of a soul-deadening, horrifying life of agony, with no hope of improvement?

One more thing: there’s a reason J. K. Rowling modeled the Dementors on her own depression.


My baby girl is getting married today. For her and her beau, it’s a day of joy and celebration. It would be for me, too, except for the fact that I have been told I would not be welcome there.

My future son-in-law’s parents are conservative and Christian. Rather than offend their sensibilities, since I am a Trans* woman, I have been told not to come. Instead, my “normal” younger brother will be giving my daughter away.

In a way, I’m not surprised. Indeed, I should have been able to predict it—after all, she was raised in a household dominated by her grandmother, who was definitely the controlling Alpha female. Indeed, it took me years after her mother and I divorced that I was able to see that I had been in an abusive relationship.

When I was involuntarily outed—by my ex’s brother—to my family, my father and my daughters immediately stopped all contact with me. It wasn’t until nine years later that my father reached out to me. My older daughter, with whom I had been reunited years earlier, called me and said, “You need to call your daddy. He wants to talk with you.”

My father had had a stroke the previous year, and his health had steadily declined. Now he was bedridden. He and my step-mother had attended a few therapy sessions about me, and he was ready. After an hour-long telephone conversation, we ended by telling each other, “I love you.”

That was a Friday. The following Monday, my wife suggested we drive down to see my dad. We live in upstate New York, and he in Maryland. Apparently my two brothers had flown in to visit him, and had already been there a couple of weeks.
Tuesday morning we loaded the truck and headed down to Maryland. We hadn’t been on the road 30 minutes when my daughter called. “”Your daddy’s gone,” she said.

We continued our trip in silence. Rochester to Hagerstown was about an 8 hour drive, with stops for meals and refueling. It was dark when we arrived, and after a couple hours of conversation, we found a motel and checked in. The plan was for all of us to meet at the funeral home the next morning.

My younger brother was there, as were my daughters and my eldest grandson, the one who had adored my father. I finally reconnected with my younger daughter. It was a loving reconciliation.

A year or so later, I made a futile attempt to move back to Seattle. Futile, because I had forgotten that under Washington state law, between first and last months’ rents, as well as a damage deposit, it would have cost me a minimum of $2400 just to move into the cheapest apartment available.

I ended up taking the train back to Rochester, but not before my younger daughter visited me a few times. I also got the chance to spend time with my older daughter and my grandchildren.

Then, as Don Henley once sang, “I got the call today I didn’t want to hear.”

I told myself it didn’t matter, that she would change her mind. I knew I was fooling myself when she didn’t even have the courage to call me herself. Instead, she saddled her sister with that onerous duty.

And so today is the wedding. At first, when my older daughter texted me how unhappy she was that I wasn’t there, I didn’t even want to get out of bed. After a while, I got up and got dressed, ate breakfast, smoked a couple of cigarettes, and knew that today was going to be a hard day for me. All of my mental issues—my depression, anxiety disorders, dysphoria—are beating inside my brain. The wolf is howling at the door, demanding to be let in. I’ve been crying off and on for the past two hours and considering my options.

As they always do when my depression spirals out of control, my first thoughts were of self-harm. I wanted to die. But then my mantra kicked in: “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” and I knew that no matter how this day goes, I will still be here tomorrow. Hell, I don’t even have any razor blades in the house!

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?—Khalil Gibran, “On Joy and Sorrow”

And so I continue. Writing this story suffices for today’s therapy. I’m going shopping with my BFF later today, and we’ve got a full agenda…to be closed out with pizza for dinner….

‘“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”’—Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

One of the greatest coping skills I learned after yet another failed suicide attempt (have you ever had a tube inserted in your nose and snaked down to your stomach as part of a gastric lavage?) was something I realized when my therapist told me: “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

The realization—or rather, the skill—was so simple I was amazed that I hadn’t thought of it before was this: when things get so dark that I start to consider simply ending it all, I put on my headphones, fire up iTunes on my laptop, and put George Harrison on a loop. All Things Must Pass is my mantra. I listen to it over and over again until finally, I believe it.

The other realization changed my entire outlook on life in general and my lifelong chronic depression. This time it was something I read:

The question we should be asking is not “What’s wrong with you?” Rather, we should be asking “What happened to you?”

That changed my perspective from “What did I do to deserve this?” to “What caused this to happen to me?” And even then, it took a much longer time to drop the “to me” and stop looking at myself as a victim.

I am not a “victim of depression;” I am a survivor. I now approach this struggle in much the same way practitioners of Aikido approach their opponents: find your enemy’s strength—in this case, his energy—and turn it against him.

I’ve spent years discovering my enemy’s strengths. Knowing them, I have learned how to turn them against what Churchill called his “black dog,” and what Rowling put a face to with the Dementors.

The result? Between those two realizations, new medications, and therapy, it’s been over 3 years since my last suicide attempt, and 2 years since I’ve had even so much as a thought of harming myself.

We may be, as the Cheshire Cat claims, “all mad here.” But that’s no reason we can’t fight back. That’s no reason we can’t be mental health ninjas.


Do you suffer from depression? Do you have thoughts of self-harm? Of suicide? You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255. Even though I’m on the mend, I still keep the number on speed dial.


Amaan Khan

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