World Mental Health Day 2018

I’ve talked on here before about my struggles with depression and anxiety. I’ve dealt with these diseases most of my adult life. I nearly had to drop out of college because of them. Luckily, I was able to find help for my condition and begin treatment. So far, especially recently, it’s been incredibly effective. I’m more positive than I have been for years. I’m able to deal with my anxieties in a more effective manner. I’m even able to work through my frustrations more. But I’m privileged in this regard.  not everyone has access to the kind of help that I have been able to get. So today, instead of doing a story or a poem, I want to share a few things you can do to fight the stigma against mental illnesses and help out those who suffer from them.

The first thing you can do, if you have the money, is donate to a charity or organization that helps people with mental illnesses find treatment and support. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is one such organization. They provide help and support to many people throughout the United States. If you are a gamer, a good organization to donate to is Take This, which works to fight the stigma in the gaming community and provide resources to help people with mental illnesses at gaming conventions.

The second thing you can do is listen and be there for people in your life who have mental illnesses. If you know someone who suffers from a mental illness, try and be there for them to talk to. Listen to their experiences and try not to judge them for what they’ve been through. Let them know that you are there for them and that you want to understand and help however you can.

The most important thing you can do, if you yourself suffer from a mental illness or think you might have one, is to take care of yourself. If you think you might have an illness talk to someone. If you are scared of talking to a professional, talk to a friend or family member. If you need time by yourself, take it. If you have a creative pursuit, work on it a bit. Do whatever you can do to try and keep yourself going, because you are valued and wonderful just for being alive.

I hope this post helps people to understand how they can do something productive to help a person with a mental illness. I’ll post something more creative soon. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other.

Depression Book Club: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

I was going to get this out there earlier in the week, but unfortunately a power outage screwed up my wireless card, so I’ve been having trouble connecting to the Internet. In any case, welcome to the second installment of my new weekly feature, the Depression Book Club, where I talk about books that are either about depression or that have helped me deal with depression in some way.  This week’s book is similar in some respects to last week’s as it is also a comedic memoir by someone with depression. Wishful Drinking, however, does something that makes it stand out in a unique and different way from the previous book: it shows us that even the people we admire and idolize can suffer from mental illness.

Wishful Drinking

Wishful Drinking is the memoir of the late Carrie Fisher, beloved by many for her role as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. It was written following the electroshock therapy that she underwent to help control her severe Bipolar Depression. This is a fact she mentions in the introduction, as she is not shy about her mental illness. In fact, Fisher even mentions that part of the reason she wrote the book is to help fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Her main weapon in this fight is her dry, sarcastic sense of humor, which fills the book with a distinctive character and helps make even the worst of the stories within very entertaining.

It doesn’t hurt that Fisher lead a life that was far from typical. Born the child of two celebrities and later becoming a celebrity in her own right, Fisher had adventures that most of us can only dream, and several that we would never even think to imagine. And yet many of them are familiar, to: the bad break ups, the time your mother embarrassed you in front of your friends, and, of course, the struggle with that strange and horrible force that makes you doubt you own brain. For all the wild and outlandish tales of celebrity, the book never loses its sense of common humanity. That, I think, is it’s biggest strength: it shows us that even larger-than-life celebrities are still human.

Wishful Drinking is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and at your local independent bookstore. If you’ve read the book and want to share your thoughts, or if you’ve got a suggestion for a book to read, leave a comment below. Otherwise, I’ll see you next week.

A Not-So-Patriotic Fourth

The Fourth of July is making me feel particularly depressed this year. I try to summon up a little patriotic glee, some good old fashioned “‘Merica!” pride, but all I can think about is how the Republicans are tying to screw me out of healthcare. And then I get worried that I won’t be able to afford my anti-depressants. And then I start to think about what it would be like to to have to live through the Trump presidency without access to anti-depressants, and I get mad and angry and I want to call my Senator and yell at him even though he already said no to the bill. But then I remember that it’s the Fourth of July so he’s out of the office anyway, and then I feel sad and ineffectual.

This is the first fourth of July in my entire memory that I don’t feel like celebrating my country. Even during the last Republican administration, which happened around the time that I first started forming cohesive political opinions, I still wanted to go outside and wave sparklers around and go see fireworks displays. I didn’t like Bush or what he was doing to the country. At all. But he never made me feel depressed the way the current administration does.

I’m clearly in the minority, at least in my White suburban neighborhood, because I can hear people setting off the occasional firecracker outside my house and it’s not even dark out yet.  But I bet I’m not the only one feeling this way, because from what my psychologist tells me, anxiety about Trump and the current government is really, really common right now. So if you’re out there feeling alone,. like you’re the only one who can’t seem to muster up good feelings for a country that is continually letting you down, I have this to say: I’m here, too, and I’m just as scared as you. Let’s hide under the covers together.

P.S.: I think I know who to blame for everything that’s going on in politics right now. You see, I was going back over my Facebook time-line and I happened to find this post from a particularly cheeky asshole on the day of the election:

I fucked it up

Can you believe this guy? He actually had the nerve to wear a First Order T-Shirt on the day of the election because lol irony lol and now our democracy’s backsliding into a dictatorship. Hey asshole: maybe if you had worn a Resistance T-Shirt, Clinton would have won, yeah? Way to jinx the entire country, jerk. Honestly, the nerve of some people.

Getting Political

I haven’t posted on this blog in months. That’s because nearly every time I sit and write something, I have to fight of depression. Rare is the day when I finish anything.

There are two major causes of this. The first is that I continue to be unemployed. I’m not in any danger of being homeless or on the street. My parents are giving me a place to stay as long as I continue to look for work. But the lack of financial independence has contributed to my anxiety. Worse, the more my unemployment drags on, the more it feels like searching for a job is a futile effort. But I press on because there’s nothing else I can do.

Secondly, politics. I will not sugarcoat this in an attempt to be apolitical. If I did , I would be being dishonest, both to myself and to you, my readers, however many of you are left. The election of Donald Trump and his subsequent executive orders have me worried about the future. I worry about my friends who are people of color and LGBT+. I worry about healthcare and whether I’ll be able to afford the psychiatric medication that helps keep my depression in check. And I worry that we may be on the verge of autocracy, as crazy and hyperbolic as that may sound.

resist

Photo from the Donald J Trump resistance

So I’m going to get political, and so is my writing. In fact, two weeks ago I wrote a story and finished it. It takes places in what is either a possible future or an alternate present. In this story, an autocratic America is fighting against a rebellion. This is not the story of the resistance, however. Nor is it a story of soldiers. There are no heroes in this story. It is a story about the general public. It is about political apathy and its consequences. And more than that, it is my new mission statement as a writer. From now on, expect to see more overt political messages in my writing. Not every story of mine will be an allegory or specifically anti-Trump, but my politics will be reflected in what I write. If that bothers you, read something else.

I’m going to do everything I can to publish this story. If I can’t sell it to a magazine, I will publish it here. And then I will keep writing, because this is not just about one story, but the entirety of my art. It’s about using art as a platform to make a change. It’s about not letting my anxieties stop me from writing. And most importantly, it’s about being honest about what I believe.

Time to make science fiction great again.

Depression Sonnet

There is a darkness lurking in my mind
that whispers lies and falsehoods in my ear.
It says that I am never going to find
the love and safety that we hold so dear.

And though I know that these are lies it speaks,
they cut my soul and chill me to the bone.
They steal my strength and make me feel so weak
that I begin to think I am alone.

But I am not alone in this old fight.
My allies are the people that I love.
They keep me close and hold my hands so tight
and lift me to a clear blue sky above.

So if you have a darkness such as mine
then stand with those you love and hold the line.

world-mental-health-day

Today is World Mental Health Day, so I wrote a poem about fighting depression, something that’s a big part of my life. If you suffer from a mental illness please remember that you are important and that your mental health matters. If you can, talk to someone about your experiences, and if you are comfortable with it, share you story with the world to help others who suffer not feel so alone.

 

A Poem About Anxieties

Conversations made of words I’ve never said,
lifetimes made of paths I’ve never walked,
thoughts that form a churning maelstrom in my head,

painful moments that I’ve spent with loved ones dead,
quotes from all the ghosts and wisps with whom I’ve talked,
conversations made of words I’ve never said,

fearful nightmare things that fill my heart with dread,
all the open doors upon which I have knocked,
thoughts that form a churning maelstrom in my head,

pissed off members of the groups that I have lead,
retribution from the people I have mocked,
conversations made of words I’ve never said,

razors, knives, and scissors dipped in bloody red,
blows and blows and blows, but none that I have blocked,
thoughts that form a churning maelstrom in my head,

worlds that I have thought up, lying in my bed,
all the doors I’ve passed by, thinking they were locked,
conversations made of words I’ve never said,
thoughts that form a churning maelstrom in my head…