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.