Sunday, December 28, 2008

To sleep perchance to dream

I think these dreams are a new thing. Well, not new but something new that I’m being forced to deal with.

I don’t exactly remember when they started but it was sometime in the last fifteen years. Dreams sometimes concerned with remarkably mundane or conventionally scary stories would fill me with terror. The dream would feel real and hopeless and terrible and all I could do was scream. I’d wake up actually screaming.

At first this only happened a couple of times a year. It was startling then and later just kind of funny. My wife’s reaction was the funniest to me. She’s a pretty deep sleeper and would roll over and say, ‘Oh, for fuck’s sake!’ or something equally tender. The dreams were no big deal and, though one particular night was ruined I could make it up soon enough.

They gradually became more frequent. Occasionally I’d realize that I was in one of these dreams and I’d understand that I could escape by screaming. More often though the screams or excited exclamations, because sometimes my wife will understand what I say especially if she’s already awake, are just a spontaneous and natural reaction to the terror that I think I’m actually experiencing.

Now the dreams themselves are the strangest part of this. Of course they are dreams so they have that natural feeling even amongst unnatural progression and circumstances. Very often they are involved with my either having been left or imprisoned. Sometimes I dream that my wife is leaving me and as I try to find her ‘cause I just know that if we can only talk… as I try to find her I realize that everyone around me suddenly have malevolent intentions for me, vague but unmistakable malevolency. Then my wife appears as their leader either laughing or leading the charge and I scream. Or in other dreams I’m bound in the dark and I know that my disinterested captor is a terrible, monstrous man. The panic in these isn’t about what he plans to do it’s simply that he’s caught me.

OK, I know that there’s nothing less interesting than another’s dreams so I leave that there. You get the idea of some of the basic themes without having to sit through the specific plots.

As of a few months ago I was having these dreams once or twice a month. Still bearable and, though no longer funny, I was dealing. But a couple of weeks ago they suddenly became more frequent. I’m having them nightly now. Twice last night. In fact I can say with a fair amount of certainty that every time I’ve fallen asleep during the past week I’ve been awoken by one of these dreams.

Now I’ve read that we only remember the dreams that we wake up during so perhaps I have always had terrifying dreams but now they’re waking up more frequently. Or perhaps whatever torment bubbles up from my subconscious during them gets closer to the surface all the time.

But whatever the reason I can’t take much more of this. And I don’t have a clue as to how to fix it. I’ve tried sleeping pills; they only leave me trapped in the terror longer before my groggy body can wrench me out of it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

3:30 am - Boxing Day

It’s a month on since my last post. In that time a lot has happened but not much has changed. I received some nice and thoughtful comments here and in private emails – none of which I acknowledged or responded to. I received a couple of link exchange requests that I’ve been too distracted/lazy to deal with even though it takes little more than a cut and paste.

In short I’ve been in full-on wallow. My business is hurting, money’s tight and suicide has crept back into my idle mind. I’m having trouble sleeping and when I do sleep, which is never more than one hour at a stretch, I have complex and stressful dreams. They are generally concerned with abandonment or imprisonment, conditions that I’ve never really suffered from.

I’m a mess.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Doing the Big Work

It's 3am and I'm awake with a pretty remarkable headache. So I sucked down a fistful of ibuprofen and some sinus pills. Now I'm just surfing the inter-tubes looking for some entertainment to take my mind off of the dull thud. I found this:

I'm a big fan of Marc Maron. His perspective of human nature is often provocative and always interesting. I know that I should probably add a lot of caveats here but just step back an enjoy this bit for what it is. Did you do it? Are you sure? OK, now you can make a comment.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Depressed or Lazy?

I wrote this post, Am I Depressed or Just Lazy, some time ago. At the time it was really a rhetorical question. I believed that I was about equal doses of each. The post was really about me trying to poke myself into action. If one admits a personal foible in public then he will be more conscious of it and therefore more corrective of it in the future, right?

But perhaps I'm not as lazy as I thought. Perhaps I'm more depressed than I've believed. Here's why I say that. That little post has become one of the most popular on the blog thanks to search engines. And it turns out that a lot of people have this same question, "Am I depressed or lazy?"

I've been noticing this for months and wondering what I could do about it. I'm certainly not equipped to deal with anyone else's problems nor would I presume to offer advice but I know how to find some people who are so equipped. So I thought I'd track down a blogging psychologist that might answer some questions about this issue. Should be interesting reading and it might even help some of those readers that find The Pursuit of Happiness after trying to resolve their own laziness vs. depressiveness.

So help me out. I jotted down a few questions but they don't seem to get to the root of it:
Where does this question come from? What is the apparent connection that many of us feel between the symptoms of depression and simple laziness?

It strikes me that only a depressed person would come up with this question. Someone who is simply lazy would likely not confuse his or her “condition” with depression. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

What would you suggest to someone who is asking him or herself this question?

What else should I ask? And anyone know of a pro that could expertly answer these questions?

All suggestions welcome...


The Pursuit of Happiness has made another list: Top 100 Men’s Health Blogs
Check it out.

Monday, October 20, 2008 - Received in my Email Today

Did you know that, in Canada :

* Nearly one in three people will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime?
* Almost 46% think people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour?
* One in four are fearful of being around those who suffer from serious mental illness?

This October, help Sunnybrook Foundation and Presenting Partner, Manulife Financial confront the stigma of mental illness and raise funds to support mental health research and care.

Let’s Face This – Confront the Stigma of Mental Illness is an innovative grassroots web campaign designed to raise much-needed funds and awareness in support of mental health treatment and research. It is being launched in conjunction with Mental Illness Awareness Week, taking place from October 5 – 11.

Why is it important?

Despite the prevalence and impact mental illness can have on people’s lives and the lives of their loved ones, in many cases it goes undiagnosed and untreated.

Why? Because there is a persistent stigma surrounding mental illness which can leave individuals too ashamed to seek help; too embarrassed to confide in a loved one, and left feeling alone and helpless.

What Can You Do To Help?

We invite you to visit the website - – and post a photo and message on the “Tree of Support”. With each new photo added, the “tree” will grow, symbolizing growing awareness, education, fundraising and hope for those suffering from mental illness.

Let’s Face This reminds us that mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety, are not the result of personality flaws or character weakness, but, like other illnesses, are biological in nature. And like other medical conditions, respond to treatment and care.

I invite you to join me and countless others confront the stigma of mental illness.

Let’s Face This together and confront the stigma of mental illness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Big Week

This is probably the only work that I’m going to do today.

Last week was probably the biggest week of the year for me, both professionally and personally. I attended the most important annual conference of my industry, I presented two lectures (and was paid well for the effort), my wife came with me for the first time and I tried to do it all without St. Johns Wort.

This was primarily a packing decision and I’m really not sure why I did it. There were other concerns such as being able to take my thrice daily dose without having to answer questions from my colleagues and being overly cautious about airport security but I think that perhaps I just wanted to see if I could pull it off.

Conferences like this one mean that you get to interact with others who uniquely understand your professional worries and joys. It’s always a high and I look forward to this one all year long. Plus just the vacationy aspect of the event, even though one is working the whole time, makes it an upbeat thing. Perhaps I thought that I’d try coasting on this energy.

Now, I was worried about the lecture as you know from previous posts. (I survived, by the way. My wife was very complimentary, which she never is so falsely, and a handful of the audience came up to further discuss the topic both hours so I guess I pulled it off. There was also discussion with the organizers afterwards of my returning next year. So I suppose we should put this in the professional successes column.) But it was the first thing of the week and, again, I thought that I could coast on my relief that it was over and leave SJW out of my life for at least one week.

We left on Tuesday. By noon on Friday I was curled up in a ball in my hotel room bed full of self castigation and doubt. I told everyone that it was a dodgy breakfast burrito that I’d had at a local diner.

I slept for a few hours that day, skipping some of the best seminars of the week, before I was able to roust myself in time to catch the last event of the day. There were meetings on Saturday, too, but I was able to make those.

Overall, the week was good. I mostly enjoyed myself and I feel recharged professionally. I’m taking today to decompress but I learned an important lesson. St. John’s Wort works for me but I have to stay on it or risk a crash. I’m not sure if the pressures and eustress of the week got to me or just the fact that I’d laid the herb aside caused me to plummet but either way I’m convinced that it wouldn’t have happened had I just packed it.

Live and learn!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hide & Seek - Book Review

Hide & Seek
A Neurotic's Hilarious Journey

by Wendy Aron

Let’s say that you have to go on a trip to a city in a foreign country. You’ve never been there and you don’t speak the language. It doesn’t matter whether you want to go or not; you have to go.

Now, you can take one companion with you and you’ve narrowed your choices down to three. First is your insanely rich grandfather. You love your grandfather and he loves you although you don’t have a lot in common. He’s promised that you will only have the finest on your trip – first class travel, the best hotels and meals in the finest restaurants.

Second is your brainy cousin. Again, you love your cousin and he loves you and you have as much in common with him as any two people of the same generation. The advantage here is that this cousin is a professor. He teaches the language and culture of the very same country where you are headed. In fact he goes there about once a year. He can pay his own way and promises to show you the most interesting and intellectually stimulating bits of the culture that you’ll be visiting for the first time.

Third is your friend. She makes you laugh.

Whom do you choose? It’d be a tough decision but I’m pretty sure that I’d take my friend.

This is Hide & Seek. I didn’t want to take this trip to Depression and I’m not particularly fond of being here. But reading this book is like being able to go there with my friend who makes me laugh.

Other books could tell me all of the different types of depression, what causes them and what treatments work. Of course we all read those books and they help a bit but a commiseratory laugh seems to help a heluva lot more.

Hide & Seek focuses on one year of Aron’s life in New York. The loose frame of the book is built when we learn that her therapist, upon whom she’s come to depend, might be moving to LA. Aron spends this year frantically trying all sorts of different solutions to losing such a valuable person in her life. She tries speed dating, assertiveness training, aromatherapy, etc. Each step in her journey is told in hilarious vignettes where she describes the bizarre solutions offered to her by even more bizarre people.

Aron’s had a rougher time of it than I have. My whiny little “mild” depression pales but when she says things like ‘we depressives react this way when that happens’ I can instantly identify. It’s nice laugh at depression with her; she lifts the darkness.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dealing with Depression - Naturally

(Guest post by Sarah Scrafford on behalf of X-Ray Technician Schools a complete guide for online X-ray technician programs.)

Going through depression is like going through labor – only you know how much pain you’re in. While the result of labor, no matter how long, is a bundle of joy, depression ends up taking its toll on both mind and body. I should know, I’ve been through the symptoms a couple of times in my life – you’re not able to eat or sleep, you’re scared to get into bed because of the nightmares that haunt you so you drink yourself to sleep, getting out of bed each morning is a drag because you can’t seem to think of a reason to get up and face the day, and your mind wanders in its own lonely and sad cocoon irrespective of what people around you are saying and doing. I do have one good thing to say about depression though - it can be cured without medical treatment if you’re mentally strong enough. Here are a few pointers from my suitcase of memories to help those battling this disease:
  • Keep yourself busy: There’s no better antidote to the slow poison called depression than work, work and more work. The more you try to drown yourself in some useful activity that contributes to your self-worth, the better you’re bound to feel. So get up, get out of the house, go to work, and throw yourself whole heartedly into the tasks that await you, and you’ll see a remarkable difference in your mental status in as little as a day or two.

  • Surround yourself with loved ones: One technique I used to pull myself out of the quagmire of depression was to talk, talk and talk some more to friends. If I was not hanging out with some of them, I was on the phone with a few others. Even though my heart was not in it, I took part in all their activities, mostly the ones that painted the town red. And believe me, pretending to be happy and carefree actually resulted in the feelings becoming a reality.

  • Avoid substance abuse: Sure, alcohol or drugs can provide you with a momentary escape from the ghosts that torment you, but the relief is fleeting. And when the effects die down, the ghosts come back with a vengeance that leaves you even more devastated. It’s not going to be easy to stay away from the bottle and the pills, especially when you’ve become addicted to them for their soporific effect, but a little will power goes a long way. Stay true to your resolve for a day or two, after which the going gets easier.

  • Get some exercise: A good sweat is enough to chase away the demons that are swirling in your mind, so put on those running shoes and jog your blues away. An iPod loaded with upbeat songs is the only thing you need for company. Alternatively, you could take up a sport and let the adrenaline flow as you battle it out with your friends – the camaraderie and laughter will make you forget you were ever depressed.

  • Give meaning to your life: Turn your life around so that you find some sense of purpose to your presence on earth. Involve yourself in an activity that fulfills your soul and makes you want to face each day with renewed vigor. This will prevent you from slipping back into your moody, reserved persona.


This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of x ray tech schools. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Too Distracted to be Depressed

A comment on my last post: “Are you alright? Please just post a single line to let us know. K”

I’m really touched, thanks. I’m doing OK. Here are some highlights from my rambly life.

For the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in two speeches that I’ve been hired to present early next month. I’ve had a lot of trouble with them because, though I love the topic and the research is a fun to do, anytime I work on them I start to think about the speeches themselves and my mind clamps shut. Given my social anxiety it should be no surprise that I’m pretty nervous about them. I understand that lots of people have trouble with public speaking so I have no way to compare my reaction to others’ but I haven’t been sleeping, I’m drinking even more than usual which was already more than is healthy, my other work has been neglected, I’ve been prone to overreact often with rage– basically I’m a nervous, twitchy wreck.

I have a good friend who’s enthusiastic about everything that I do. I have few friends but she has lots and most of them seem to like me. I asked her if she could gather some of them for a rehearsal of my speech. She did and Sat. night I got to give it a dry run. Things went pretty well although I have some clear holes that need patching. They kept telling me that I’m charmingly disorganized. The interpretation is obvious.

Otherwise life is churning along. One advantage to having a major roadblock in one’s future thinking is there isn’t room for a good, all encompassing depressive episode. Things haven’t gotten really dark since I misinterpreted my St. John’s Wort dosage earlier this summer. That might be the herb or it might be the speech. If the dark engulfs me later next month I suppose I’ll have the answer to that one.

Finally Hide & Seekis being released on Wednesday. I really enjoyed this book. Look for my review here tomorrow or Wednesday.

It’s made me think again about aromatherapy. New-agey flotsam and jetsam aside this might be a helpful thing for me. I think I’ll look into it sometime after the speeches.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Improper Use of St. John’s Wort

As you know I’m convinced that St. John’s Wort works. One has to be religious about taking it or its benefits wear off in a matter of a couple of days. But what is a person to do if he is going to be out all day? It takes two pills three times a day for the brand that I take and carrying a pill bottle around just isn’t practical. I also don’t want to advertise that I’m taking it.

My solution is to simply throw four or six pills in my pocket before I leave. Most of the time I can remember to take them and it’s easy enough to do take them discreetly. Problem solved.

Well, it didn’t work today. I had to leave the house just before eight. I work at home so this was unusual. I was going to take pictures of and interview some people who were harvesting an interesting crop. I packed up my camera, notebook and four pills to cover me for the day in case it took that long.

It didn’t; I got home at noon. I fixed lunch and dug in my pocket for the pills. They weren’t there. I thought that they might have fallen out at some point and I didn’t think much of it. But then I felt some sort of grit against the cloth of my pocket. Then I realized what might have happened and pulled the pocket out.

Sure enough the ground up St. John’s Wort, or at least some, of it was still there but the pills weren’t. It was a hot day and I wore jeans because I knew that this crop was particularly scratchy. The result being that I stood around in the hot sun for almost four house sweating into my jeans and dissolving the pills with my sweat.

Hmm, I thought that this would be an amusing anecdote but now that I write it out it just seems kind of icky. Anyway, here’s the punchline.

Ready for it? Here it comes!

My left leg has been in a good mood ever since. Hahaha!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Surviving Ben’s Suicide – Book Review

Surviving Ben’s Suicide
A Woman’s Journey of Self-Discovery

by C. Comfort Shields

Surviving, quite simply, is the story of a woman whose college boyfriend committed suicide. The narrative follows the story of Ben and Shields’s relationship, his growing depression and suicide, and how Shields spent years trying to make sense of it.

The story unfolds slowly as does the full picture of Ben’s mental struggle. In an almost ABAB pattern the chapters toggle back and forth across time over the bright line of his death. Time moves forward along each story line but the reader is left feeling jolted back and forth. It is a jarring effect but I’m not sure if it would be more enjoyable if it were written more linearly. The back and forth disallows the reader from settling comfortably into the story of young love or the healing at the end but it also provides some relief from the darkest parts of the tale.

But that’s technique; let’s talk about the meat of the book. There is no question that Ben suffered. If the fact that a healthy, intelligent man in his mid-twenties chose to kill himself doesn’t convince one the final chapters of Surviving make clear the severity of his emotional or mental problems.

It is also clear that Shields, the narrator, suffered. Not only did her lover and friend kill himself but just a few years before she had survived a bus accident that killed another close friend. The years of the late teens and early twenties when one is deciding what life will be is a bad time to deal with even one accidental death.

I found it difficult to connect with this book. I understood going in that it was about dealing with the suicide of a loved one but in the aftermath and even before Ben’s suicide Shields’s perspective seems to be the most important thing. Naturally this is intrinsic in a story told first-person but her preoccupation with how everything and everyone affected her is almost myopic. That’s not to say that Surviving isn’t a compelling read; it is. I’m only saying that Shields occasional preoccupation with how everything affected her is distracting. In my life it is far more likely that I’d be Ben rather than Shields so I suppose that this skewed my perspective a bit.

On the balance I’d have to say that I enjoyed reading this book. As Shields points out there is a definite stigma against suicide in our culture as well as a stigma against those who are “only” lovers and not married – something with which I’ve dealt. Surviving is certainly worth a read if you are seeking to understand suicide or inspiration for dealing with the death of a loved one.

You can check out some other reviews on Surviving Ben's Suicide's page.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

a book I'm reading

It’s Saturday morning, about 6a. I’m the only one up. Usually my wife is up by now but she has to work a very long day on Fridays - 14 hours - so she deservedly sleeps in on Saturdays when she can.

I’m trudging through a book that is at the same time fascinating and frustrating. It’s one of the two that I mentioned earlier I plan to review for this blog. I’m always very torn when I don’t love a book which I’ve been given to review. First, the book was free so I feel like I owe someone a positive reveiw. Second the book was published and I have an idea of the incredible amount of work that went into doing so. Third, whether I like it or not, the writer has been judged on some level to be a better writer than myself - I haven’t published a book - so I have to wonder if I even had the right to not like it.

But I’m torn about this book for other reasons. It’s written in first person so to read it is to live in the writer’s head. I only point this out because with every page I am more and more annoyed with every character in the book, especially the narrator. Even so, I can’t help but be fascinated by the story and continually drawn to turn the page. On that level I have to admit that the book is a success.

I’m still not sure how I’m going to review it.

But that’s not what I wanted to write about. I wanted to write about an English teacher of mine who died during my junior year of high school. I’ll do that later. I’ve noticed that my entries here tend to ramble so I’m making a conscious effort to shorten them.

If I’m going to do that then I’d better stop this entry right now.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Times They Are A-Changin'

For no other reason than I just feel it in the air today...

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

-lifted from

Monday, August 25, 2008

Light therapy for depression

(Guest post by Tim Desmond who hosts a website offering phone counseling and information on treating depression.)

Light therapy (also called phototherapy) has been studied as a treatment for seasonal depression for more than 20 years. More recently it has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for nonseasonal depressional as well. Several studies have shown lightboxes can achieve significant relief from depression more than four times faster than medication. It is estimated that a significant percentage of people in the US suffer from light deficiency. Symptoms of light deficiency include depression, lack of motivation, lack of energy and carbohydrate craving.

What kind of light to use

Both natural sunlight and commercial lightboxes have been shown to treat depression effectively. While there is some evidence that exposure to light in the early morning is most effective, other studies suggest that different people respond best to getting light at different times of day. Average exposure time in most studies to a 10,000 lux lightbox (lux is a unit of brightness) was thirty minutes. If choosing to use sunlight, thirty minutes on a clear day at midday is ideal. Commercial lightboxes and the sun can both produce vitamin D, which is believed to play an important role in causing and treating depression. However, the sun can only do so when it is high enough in the sky for UVB rays to penetrate the atmosphere. Depending on your latitude, the sun may only be high enough in the sky to be able to produce vitamin D for a few hours around midday.

Whether you choose natural sunlight or a lightbox, it is very important that you do not use any sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks your body's ability to produce vitamin D. If you believe your depression might be caused by a vitamin D deficiency, you should also take a vitamin D supplement.

Click here for an ideal lightbox.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 Sucks!

OK, so I thought that I could make a bit of money from this blog. That's not wrong is it? I don't blog anywhere else for free - in most cases I'm paid by the blog owner - so it's almost an involuntary action for me to expect money for blogging.

Right or wrong, I thought I'd give it a shot. Besides the Cheezy Adspace on the left column I signed up for the program called or The idea is simple - bloggers and advertisers are paired up and bloggers are a paid a few bucks to write an entry about the advertisers' products or sites. The first entry went well so I thought we were in business.

I got a second assignment and wrote the entry below. It was rejected because it wasn't "related to advertiser." I didn't understand this because it is precisely and only about the advertiser; how could it then not be enough about the advertiser to pass muster? The rejection email went on to make several points that in the mind of Lori, the blogvertiser employee who sent it, explain the reasons for the rejection. They are:
  1. Make sure there are 3 or more links to the sponsor's site in your blog entry.

  2. Double-check the links to make sure they are all working correctly and not tagged nofollow. (click on each link to verify it is working)

  3. Make sure you submit the permanent URL so we can find the entry.

  4. Make sure you have not copied & pasted content from the advertiser's website.

  5. Make sure your entry is long enough and is related to what the sponsor's site is about. Minimum of 2-3 paragraphs long.

  6. Please review the rules and guidelines for any possible other reasons why your blog entry was rejected.

I went through each point but still couldn't see the problem.

Now, let me say one thing at this point. I write professionally. This is how I pay my bills. I'm used to conforming to the needs of whomever is paying me. I don't take it personally when something is rejected or edited; one has to grow a thick skin about such things.

I replied to this particular rejection letter politely explaining that I didn't understand what the editor was looking for and requesting some direction. Lori didn't respond. I send another email, this time to the more generic email address for the site - info@ or something like that. Still no response. By now a few days had gone by and I received an automatic email telling me that time was running out. It said I'd better accept the assignment and write my entry or else.

Now I went to the help page on the site. I posted a message there explaining the situation and providing all the information they could possibly need. At this point I'd put much more work into this issue that what they were promising to pay me. Well, they still refused to talk to me.

I've had enough. I'm done with this outfit. If they can't take a moment to answer a legitimate question from a blogger, however obvious the answer may be to them, then I have no time for them.

So, I’m becoming a fan of St. John’s Wort. What other supplements are out there? Let's see what's available from

Stress Control Supplements - These are probably closest to the kind of supplement that I've been talking about on this blog. These pills promise to relieve stress and, as an added bonus, cut down on weight. In other words, relax yourself thin with these babies.

HGH Boosters - I have no idea what HGH is but if you're afraid your HGH levels are low then this is the stuff for you. According to the website it is an anti-aging and bodybuilding product that will provide peak performance in every aspect of life.

Gluten Free Foods - Do you have Celiac disease? Here are some specially prepared gluten-free foods.

This post brought to you by

Thursday, August 14, 2008

1:25 am

Had a professional setback on Monday.

I don't completely understand the connection between life events and my depression but they are most certainly intertwined. When I get hit with something like this it can trigger a low point which is where I am just now. But it also doesn't take external stimuli to send me spiraling.

I'm sucking down the SJW religiously but I'm having trouble climbing out. Right now things seem pretty bleak; I may look back later and decide that this was just another run of the mill trough but it doesn't feel that way right now.

Suicide has been much on my mind. I did an odd thing this afternoon. Sleeping pills really knock me out - more so, I think, than most people. Half a dose hits me hard and keeps me down all night. Around 5p yesterday I took a full dose. When my wife got home at 8 (her usual time) I was out cold and didn't wake until 10. I didn't have any reason for doing this except that it just felt like the thing to do. As I was fading to sleep I wondered if it was a suicide trial run.

But now I'm awake and it's one-thirty. My sleep's going to be fucked up for days now.

Three reasons I don't kill myself:
  • I'm a coward
  • I don't want to leave my wife alone with the debt we have
  • I'm still curious to see what's going to happen next

How long will these hold true?

Monday, August 11, 2008

One Hundred Blogs

It's a very lovely Monday morning. Since I don't have to punch a clock Mondays don't carry the same sort of soul-sucking dread that they used to. This particular one finds me in my favorite chair, fresh cup of coffee just beside me and a brilliant sunrise blasting over my neighbor's roof. (Literally, as I typed that the sun rose! When it has a close, defined line like a nearby rooftop it can happen that quickly.) I've got George Winstonplaying in my earbuds and all is about as well as it can get in my little world.

So why, under such circumstances do I choose to be pecking away at my depression blog? Well, it's only to recipricate some link karma and announce that my little collection of whiny, navel-gazing ramblings have made another list of superlative blogs. Check out Top 100 Mental Health and Psychology Blogs at

I never promote this thing except that I sent the first couple of entries to Digg. (At this point I have no idea why and would most certainly not do such a thing now.) But somehow it attracts attention and brings in a modest amount of traffic. I really don't know why. The writing is sloppy. The topics are repetitive and, just like my own mental health, seem to swirl about without reaching any firm conclusion. They offer nothing of value to the reader that I can see. (This isn't meant to criticize regular readers in any way; only to express my bewilderment.) But, like I've said before, this blog does do something for me. There is some therapy in shouting into the void. And others seem to enjoy it for reasons that pass my understanding. So on we go.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Upcoming Book Reviews

I forgot to mention that I've got a couple of book reviews coming up on this blog. Look for my review of Surviving Ben's Suicidelater this month and Hide & Seek: How I Laughed at Depression, Conquered My Fears and Found Happinesssome time in September.

Since last time...

I’ve had a rough few weeks. Something I’ve probably mentioned before is that it is very hard for me to blog about my mental state when it’s at its lowest. Thus this blog has never served the purpose that I hoped it would when I first set it up. But it does have some value to me and, quite surprisingly, to others. So I keep it up.

A few truths about this blog have developed recently. I’m sharing these because since my last entry a few weeks ago some readers have communicated to me their dissatisfaction with the sporadic nature of this project. Knowing how I write this thing might help these readers understand why I dip in an out of it as I do.
  • I never read old entries. I don’t like reading what I’ve written here. This is unusual; typically I read and reread what I’ve written endlessly, especially editable web content. But I learned early on that if I look back on this blog then I just want to delete it all. I’m glad I had the foresight to do this anonymously or there’s no way I’d let some/most of the whining that I’ve done here stand.

  • I don’t always blog when I want to. There have been a number of times over the last few weeks when I really did want to sit down and pour out an entry but I didn’t. Mainly because my proper writing career is becoming busier all of the time and for most of the past few weeks I was dealing with looming deadlines. Right now my nearest deadline is two months out; my latest deadline was yesterday and I just made that one. So, I couldn’t spend my writing energy here. Think I’m depressed now? Check with me when the electric company has cut power because I stopped paying the bill!

  • I only blog when I want to. I tried to establish a regimented schedule for this blog as I do with my professional blogs but that just didn’t work. Any value that this project has evaporates when I try to put it on a schedule.

Oh, and one more thing. As evidenced by my previous entry I will from time to time be posting sponsored entries. I will maintain the honest, confessional voice that I’ve established here but the topics might seem a bit strange. Please just bear with me on these; can’t fault me for making a buck, right? Between us, you’ll always know that they are sponsored by the last line of the entry, ok?

OK, back to the last few weeks. As I mentioned above I’ve had a lot of deadlines. This means more work and that’s a good thing. But it also means that a lot of different people have been depending on me for lots of different things. I learned that this can be a source of anxiety. It makes sense – if I get anxious in social situations then it seems natural that I’d get pretty anxious when others in my society are counting on me for something.

Another source of stress is the fact that with each advancement I make in my career I find myself with a whole new audience to disappoint. It never occurs to me when I’m trying to get that next great gig but when I do I always tell myself that here’s another first impression for me to totally screw up.

And the cycle starts – I get anxious and nervous, I start to feel stress because I just know that this time I won’t be able to pull it off, nervousness turns to self-loathing which turns into a full-on fit of depression. Then I spend a day or two curled up in bed or, more likely, drunk. Then I roust myself, develop a plan and execute it - usually just in time for the deadline.

Now, imagine going through that over and over with overlapping deadlines and you’ll have an idea of how I spent July and the first week of August.

I refused a new job offer last week for obvious reasons.

Oh, and regarding the St. John’s Wort… As you know I’ve been trying to find a brand that I like. Here in the US herbals aren’t regulated so I never know if I’m getting the same thing from brand to brand. I tried a few different ones and found that I preferred Nature Made. I’d bought a new bottle back in June but it just didn’t seem to be doing the job this time around. Around mid-July I crashed really hard. As I was slogging through my emotional fog it suddenly occurred to me that I might be taking the wrong dose.

I checked the bottle and sure enough it said two pills three times a day. My previous bottle – a different brand – had been one times three and it just didn’t occur to me to check when I switched back. Things improved noticeably after that.

One more thing before I close this behemoth of an entry. Suicide returned during the darkest days of July. I hadn’t even noticed that it had left but it had and I can now say SJW really works. For months I hadn’t thought about suicide and it was lovely, looking back. But now its back and it’s probably going to take me a while to shake it. But now I know that I can.

Until next time,

Of acne, haircuts and mental health

Let’s talk acne. Why? Why not.

I had this terrible bowl style hair cut as a kid. My mom used to cut my hair to save money. Instead of putting a bowl over my head she’d take a piece of scotch tape and stick it horizontally over my bangs. Then she’d cut just above the tap leaving a straight line that left me looking for all the world like Moe Howard.

What’s this have to do with acne, you ask. Well, when puberty hit the skin that for all of those years had been trapped under my bangs became a veritable mountain range of nasty puss-filled bumps. I had to make a decision – change my hair-style and risk the humiliation of displaying those nasty zits for a week or so while they recovered or grin an bear it with a hair style that I had suddenly realized was pretty silly looking.

My final solution was a flat top! Believe it or not but I actually thought that I looked pretty good with my head sculpted into a box. It temporarily solved the zit problem.

About year later my face exploded again and I went through a couple of years with full blown acne. I scrubbed my face and used whatever creams, etc. I was advised to but it never really helped much.

Interestingly, given my typically delicate teetering between a relatively normal mental state and attacks of social anxiety or depression I never really developed an acne complex. These feelings I get have never been that tied to my outward appearance; they are more about my feelings of worth and relevance to society in general.

This entry sponsored by Murad Acne.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I ran out of SJW a few days ago and haven’t noticed a thing. But then I’ve been really busy. Sometimes it seems that if I just keep active then I don’t have the time to dwell on depressing thoughts.

I’m behind with work but that pretty typical for me. In fact I shouldn’t be writing this right now – I have way too much paid writing that I need to do but I’m very distracted right now.

Two reasons:
1) I recently noticed a gig for which I’m particularly qualified. Its main draw is that it is quite different from most of the work I do all day so it will be a break from my normal routine. That and another job means more money and I always need that. So I contacted them yesterday and I can’t focus on anything because I keep checking my inbox. This is unusual. I work for so many people and am always signing up for more work so this process is really rather routine. I’m not sure why this job is sitting larger in my mind than most.
2) I have to get my pictures made tomorrow. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I hate looking at myself. I don’t think I’m an attractive person and I’ve gained a lot of weight. Add that to a big steaming pile of social anxiety and you get a lot of second guessing and self loathing. I have to get the pictures made because I’m at the point in my career that I need a site about me. (ugh!) My writing is all over the Internet and I’m starting to lecture. I need a spot where everything is drawn together so editors and event organizers can see the whole package.

So I’m not getting any work done because these things are keeping me anxious and distracted. But at least I don’t have time to for depression. I can feel it waiting in the wings, though. No doubt as soon as things slow back down it will come swooping in.

OK, I’m off to order more SJW.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Will the Real St. John Please Stand Up?

Circumstances have led me to take three different brands of St. John’s Wort products – see below. If faulty memory serves this is the order of things. When I was blogging about notable increases in mood I was on Nature Made. When I ran out of that I went to the store and picked up the only thing I could find with SJW in it, the Nature’s Way product. I have no remarkable memory of the time during which I was taking this but I do know that it was during a few months that were especially stressful for other reasons. Now I’m on the store brand and generally maintaining. The sting of my lows is blunted a little bit and since it seems most like the Nature Made product I suppose this is the best that I’ll get from SJW. I’m tempted to pull receipts and actually compare the timeline to what I’ve reported here.

It’s frustrating that there is no regulation of herbal supplements here in the US – or at least that’s how I understand it. Having little basis for this conclusion I nevertheless assume that stems carry far less of whatever in SJW is effective than the leaves. But there is no requirement that products claiming to contain X amount of SJW carry the good bits or the bad bits.

I think that I’ll order the Nature Made again and see if I notice the change I did the first time I took it. But it appears that I’ve taken SJW about as far as it will go. I should try walking again

Nature Made – St. John’s Wort 75 Capsules
Supplement Facts
Serving Size 2 Capsules
Servings Per Container 37
Amount Per Serving
St. John’s Wort Aerial Parts Extract (Hypericum Perforatum) 300mg
Hypericin (by UV) 0.9 mg
Other Ingredients
Cellulose Gel, Gelatin (non-bovine), Maltodextrin, Stearic Acid, Magenissium Stearate, Tribasic Calcium, Phosphate, Water

Nature’s Way – Mood Aid with 5-HTP & St. John’s Wort
Supplement Facts
Serving Size 1 Capsule
Servings Per Container 60
Amount Per Serving
Thiamin (as Thiamin HCI) 250 mcg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 284 mcg
Niacin ( as Niacinamide) 3.33 mcg
Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxine HCI) 330 mcg
Vitamin B12 (as Cyanocobalamin)1 mcg
St. John’s Wort extract (stem, leaf, flower)
0.3% dianthrones measured as hypercin 300 mg
Skullcap (stem, leaf, fruit) 100 mg
Korean Ginseng extract (root) 33 mg
L-5-Hydroxytryptophan 3 mg
Other Ingrediants: Gelatin (capsule), Millet, Magnesium Stearate

Store Brand – Natural St. John’s Wort
Supplement Facts
Serving Size 1 Caplet
Amount Per Caplet
St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum) (aerial parts) Standardized extract (0.3% hypericin) 300 mg
Other Ingredients
Dicalcium Phosphate, Maltodextrin, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Croscarmellose Sodium, Tricalcium Phosphate, Stearic Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Hypromellose, Hydroxypropyl Cellulose, Polyethylene Glycol

Monday, May 12, 2008


Press release emailed to me:
Comprehensive Look at Depressive Disorders Focuses on Individual Experiences – Including a CEO, a Successful Entrepreneur, a Gang Member and a Journalist – Along with Leading Medical Experts
Documentary to Promote Dialogue on Depression Through Public Awareness Campaign in Partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and YMCA of the USA
Jane Pauley to Host Post-Broadcast Panel Discussion

January 2008 (St. Paul, MN) - Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) and WGBH Boston announced today the broadcast of DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows, a 90-minute documentary about clinical depression that will air nationally on public television stations on May 21 (check local listings). Written, produced and directed by Larkin McPhee and produced by TPT and WGBH, DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows tells the dramatic stories of people of different ages, from diverse backgrounds, who live with various forms of depression - and explores the causes and treatments.

“Depression is one of the most debilitating illnesses on earth, and yet people are ashamed to talk about it,” says McPhee. “This is a medical illness that can devastate lives, ruin relationships and keep people from achieving their dreams. My greatest hope is that people watching DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows will be able to better recognize the signs and symptoms of this elusive illness and seek help. This is a highly treatable disorder.”

Among the personal profiles in DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows are novelist and journalist Andrew Solomon, whose mother’s death contributed to his depression and left him unable to work or take care of himself; Ellie Zuehlke, whose bout with post-partum depression after the birth of her first child led her to thoughts of suicide; Terrie M. Williams, a successful public relations executive and social worker who found herself sobbing for hours on end and did not realize she was suffering from depression; Philip Burguieres, once the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, who resigned unexpectedly from his position after collapsing from untreated depression; Hart Lipton, a teenager who suddenly became depressed when he was in the sixth grade, and after four years of struggling with the illness was eventually diagnosed with a bipolar disorder; and DaShaun “Jiwe” Morris, a member of the Bloods gang who became depressed and suicidal after years of neglect, violence and crime. He is the author of an upcoming book about his experience called War of the Bloods in My Veins.

Williams, who is African-American and the author of a new book about her experience and that of others, Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting, said, “As reluctant as those in the general public may be to discussing depression openly, in the African-American community, it is much worse. The high rates of poverty and unemployment that disproportionately affect our community contribute to and compound depression. This is a lapse that must be addressed.”

The film also features several of the nation’s leading mental health experts who explain current theories behind the causes of depression, and pharmaceutical and counseling treatments that have proved successful. These include Dr. Helen Mayberg, who discusses her groundbreaking research into the use of deep brain stimulation therapies to treat depression; Dr. Carlos Zarate, who has conducted promising research with a drug called ketamine; and Dr. Charles Nemeroff, who explains how depression is rooted in both genetic and environmental factors.

Following the broadcast of DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows, veteran journalist Jane Pauley, who wrote about having a bi-polar disorder in her autobiography Skywriting: Out of the Blue, will host a nationally televised panel discussion with mental health experts to discuss the issues raised in the film.

"In an era of breathtaking advances in understanding the human brain, one of the most important developments is taking place outside the laboratory and it has far-reaching implications: mental illness is becoming part of the national dialogue. DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows is a timely and important contribution to the conversation and I'm delighted to have a role in it,” said Pauley.

In order to create a more open dialogue about depression, and reduce the social stigma that prevents many people from seeking professional help, TPT, under the PBS initiative, TAKE ONE STEP: A PUBLIC HEALTH CAMPAIGN, has secured two national partners, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and YMCA of the USA, to participate in a major public outreach initiative. This will include screenings and panel discussions in major cities and on college campuses, a multi-media Web site that will provide a vast array of research material and resources on depression, and summits organized by local PBS stations across the country that will encourage mental health providers to strategize with public and private institutions.

“We’re very pleased to have the support and resources of NAMI and the YMCA, so that we can provide as many people as possible with current information on depressive disorders,” said Phylis Geller, executive producer of DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows for TPT.

Laurie Donnelly, executive producer of DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows for WGBH said, “The film is a starting point for conversation and thought, but it’s critical that people who see the film know how to take the next step in seeking the proper care.”

DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows is a production of Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) and WGBH Boston. Producer/Writer/Director: Larkin McPhee. Executive Producers: Laurie Donnelly, WGBH; Phylis Geller, TPT. Senior Producer, WGBH: Anne Adams. Major funding for the program and Take One Step: A PBS HEALTH CAMPAIGN is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Television Viewers and PBS. Additional support for DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows provided by The Ritter Foundation Inc. and Mental Insight Foundation.

About TPT
The mission of Twin Cities Public Television is to “harness the power of television and other media for the public good.” A not-for-profit educational, civic, and cultural resource, TPT presents original productions for national and state broadcast. Productions include the DragonflyTV science series for kids; Emmy Award-winning programs include Benjamin Franklin; The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s; and Suze Orman: The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life. One of the most watched PBS affiliates in the nation, TPT is based in St. Paul and operates six digital stations in addition to analog channels tpt2 and tpt17. The organization is also an active member of the community, bringing outreach and literacy programs to local schools and community groups.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of one-third of PBS's primetime lineup and companion online content as well as many public radio favorites. WGBH is a pioneer in educational multimedia (including the Web, broadband, and interactive television) and in technologies and services that make media accessible for people with disabilities. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, DuPont-Columbia Awards-even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was honored with a special institutional Peabody Award for fifty years of excellence. For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

If it's a Placebo Effect I'll Take It

When I went off the good St. John last autumn I explained that it might have made me too happy and I couldn't have that.

Sounds perfectly silly when I say it like that.

Anyway, I spent months letting that nugget of truth or whatever it is a nugget of seep into my brain and lodge itself there. Now that I've taken the brave step of trying to work through happiness I find that the stuff seems to work really well. An hour or so after taking it and about the time that I completely forget that I've done so a sense of pleasentness comes over me. It lasts for a few hours and I don't crash afterwards. If I remember to take a pill at every meal - and that's turning out to be a pretty good challenge in itself - then I seem to maintain a generally happy disposition. Now when I feel myself slipping down I can think back and almost invariably realize that I forgot my Wort with my last meal.

Placebo effect? Maybe; but I'll take it!

If it is a PE will this entry mark the end of its effectiveness?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

...and back on the St. John's Wort

That last post was so silly and pitiful I thought that I'd give the Wort another try. Today is only the second day. If I have another giddy fit I'll just have to push through it.

Spring is charging towards my part of the world. Every year I have this feeling that I'm ill equipped to deal with it. Previously I just thought that I was overwhelmed by the happy season; now I have the depression excuse. Nothing like a good excuse, eh?

Perhaps the Wort will help me enjoy it without giving me the feeling that I'm supposed to DO something about it. I don't mind that feeling until it replaces pleasure and I'm left with nagging self-doubt.

that's not what I mean

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Journey

is at a stand-still. No self help; no herbs; just full on self-indulgent self-loathing.

It's kind of comfortable...