Friday, August 24, 2007

Bad Day

Nothing much to say except the SJW arrived yesterday. It's to be taken 3 times per day and I started at noon.

This morning I'm in a terrible funk. Lowest I've seen in a while. I've also not been sleeping well so I hope that its that and not the herb.

I'm also behind on my work (as usual) so I have to fight through the fog or I'm working through the weekend... again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why St. John’s Wort

There are two main reasons that I’m trying SJW. (It hasn’t arrived yet, by the way.) The first is that it is relatively inexpensive compared to more widely accepted therapies. I live in a smaller community, though it’s by no means remote. The options for most specialized needs are usually limited to one or two. For example, the counselor I’m constantly referring to works at a community funded mental health clinic that adjusts its prices based on the user’s ability to pay. It is the only affordable option that is less than a 2 hour drive away. But when I went I felt locked in to the counselor that they assigned me and I did not like her. Plus her first solution was medication; a medicine that my insurance doesn’t cover. So, though the cost of the visits are tempered, the prescription isn’t.

The second reason is that I can order SJW through the mail and I never have to look anyone in the eye during the transaction. I don’t know if its society’s stigma against all types of emotional problems or my own social anxiety, but it’s a helluva lot easier this way and I’m less likely to back out of it.

So, this is what I’m trying. I tell myself that I’m going to start walking each morning. I don’t know if I actually will but that’s what I tell myself. Right now I’ve designed a life that doesn’t require me to leave the house for days at a time and that’s probably not the best thing for my emotional health even if it’s more comfortable. Maybe with a combination of these two things the lows won’t be quite so low.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Giving St. John Another Try

I’ve ordered a month’s worth of St. John’s Wort. I tried taking this once before and it had a strange affect on me. Rather than taking the edge off of any anxiety and giving me a break from my depression, it made my emotions extremely raw. Events that would have typically been just a little disappointing were more likely to send me into a flying rage or sobbing. It was strange and I quickly quit the stuff.

But I was at a job that I HATED and this situation dominated my thoughts at the time. My life is very different now so I’m going to give it another try. The main reason why is that I really want to find a non-prescription solution and St. John’s Wort is universally recognized as one of the best herbal remedies for depression. I’ve also read that it’s good for my social anxiety problem so, despite my past experience, I have high hopes. (Can anyone say “placebo effect?”)

I plan to stick to it for more than just a few days despite how I feel. I wonder, though, if that rage and sadness was an expression of how much I hated that job and my boss at the time – things that I hadn’t really dealt with because the veil of depression goes a long way to numb other sources of pain.

It should arrive any day…

Friday, August 17, 2007

Harry Potter and the Curse of the Derivative Ending

Taking a moment to tear my attention away from depression I’d like to talk about Harry Potter.

I’m not a fan. I’m not an anti-fan, either. I just haven’t been swept up in the Potter mania. I may read the books one day but I’m in no hurry. I think that I’ve seen all the movies that have made it to cable but I’m not sure.

But I do like reading critics’ reviews of these books in the same way that I enjoyed reading reviews of Dan Brown’s runaway Code. I read a particularly interesting one that attacked the final book for being an anemic ending to an otherwise stellar series. There may be something to that but I can’t help but be amused by these critics. Everyone who makes a living from the written word has a novel or dream of a novel in her and wishes more than anything to eventually steer her career in that direction. Some may claim to be content transcribing police reports or compiling prospectuses but don’t believe them. Every writer got into this game to write the great novel. And that includes literary critics.

So when these eventual novelists’ attack the successful work of another it’s hard not to pick up the stink of souring grapes between the lines. They like to say things like the characters have no depth, the plot seems artificial and contrived and the author takes to many liberties with our mother tongue. But the books are selling in the millions so there must be something about the work that works, right?

But my favorite criticism to hate, and one that showed up in that Potter review, is to claim that a book – or any work of art, I suppose – is derivative. When derivative first showed up as a word of criticism it must have been devastating because the word survives today after literarily decades of use as the single worst word that can be leveled at art. It is no longer the polite way to call a book, a painting, a movie shit; to use derivative IS to call a work shit.

But its use always vexes me. What does it mean? The base word is derive and to derive you must derive from something. The critics never explain the source of the derivation. From what did the artist derive his work and why is that necessarily a bad thing? Wicked, the fabulously successful book and now musical that retells The Wizard of Oz from the witch’s perspective, is derivative in every sense of the word. Without Oz Wicked would have never been derived from it. I see nothing whatsoever wrong with that.

So when a critic uses this all too over used word to attack a book, all of their claims that the author might have abused verb usage or created unbelievable characters become baseless. Remove the plank from your own eye, critic! Don’t be so derivative!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Of Interviews and Dating

My interview yesterday went pretty well. I wasn’t really even that nervous although I have to admit that I knocked back a healthy slug of bourbon when my palms started sweating about thirty minutes beforehand. Maybe not the best option but it did help.

My wife gets impatient with my fear of interviewing people. It’s something that I have to do professionally and so far I’ve wound up friends and mutual admirers with the every subject but I still become a basket case before each one. The worst part about all of this silliness is that, though it’s virtually required for my job, these interviews are never assigned. I have to seek them out.

I hated dating. In my life I’ve probably only asked two or three women out. Sometime in my twentieth year I decided that that would be quite enough of that nonsense and I haven’t asked anyone for a date since. I got set up a few times but that always sucked. Eventually I met my wife and that part of my life has been without want since. I’ve been very lucky there.

My point is I hate social situations. I always have. My sister and I used to call ourselves socially awkward. Then a counselor put a formal name to it for me – social anxiety. And it is this social anxiety, she told me, that causes my depression.

So, you see, interviews are tough for me. Setting up interviews is ten times worse; it feels like asking for a date. I am so grateful for email! The funny thing is that once the interviews have started I become very comfortable because I’m fluent in the subject matter and it always becomes a very easy conversation. No matter how much I tell myself that this will happen, I’m still a nervous wreck.

But I survived yesterday and got that out of the way just in time. I’m trying to get another interview for Saturday so now I’ve got plenty of time to get unreasonably worked up about that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tangents Ahead

If I’m going to blog every day then I can’t continuously write about depression. That would just be too depressing. Besides, there are vast stretches of time where nothing particularly interesting happens and I don’t want a series of entries that say nothing more than “Yup, still hate myself.”

Which I do, by the way. Predictably I completely screwed yesterday up. After doing my hour’s worth of running from 9am to 10 I came home and stewed about it then finally got to work around 1pm. And afternoons suck for me so what little I did get done I’ll have to redo this morning.

I have a phone interview this afternoon. I’m not really worked up about it yet (It’s 6am as I write this.) but I’m sure that as the time draws nigh I’ll have a nice lather going. I haven’t conducted too many interviews although I’m trying to do more. I hope I’ll get more comfortable with them as time goes by but that isn’t likely. It still takes me a few days to mentally prepare for a damned haircut and the event ruins my day.

Sometimes those pills the therapist offered me sound pretty good.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Of Banking and Haircuts

So my weekend went pretty well. No major peaks or valleys.

Today’s ruined though.

I’ve managed to arrange my life so that I rarely have to leave the house. I can sometimes go up to two weeks before having to stick my nose out the door. I know it’s not healthy and it makes me even weirder when I actually do end up having to deal with people. My wife tries to get me out – she has none of these issues – but it’s just so much easier to stay at home.

But, like I said, today is ruined. I have to go to the bank and sign some papers and I have to go get my hair cut. Since I work best in the mornings I try to schedule mindless stuff like this for afternoons but when I do I spend the whole morning dreading the social intercourse and I don’t get any work done. So the logical conclusion would be to get this out of the way early and have the rest of the day for my work. Well, that doesn’t work too well, either. When I get back I spend the rest of the morning reviewing whatever stupid thing that I might have said and by the time I’ve worked through that it is afternoon and I’ve lost all motivation to work.

Disgusting, isn’t it? Believe me; I’m far more disgusted than you.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Am I Depressed or Just Lazy

I know of a number of things that would break the depression spiral that I spend most days slipping down. I could go outside and take a walk. I could read. (There are certain books the invariably lift my spirit – Leaves of Grass, Catch 22, The World of Pooh, Roughing It.) I could go to a local coffee shop that always makes me feel better. I could write another entry in this blog.

But all of those things take effort. It’s so much easier to pour another bourbon and watch Law & Order reruns. It doesn’t make me feel better, necessarily, but at least it makes me feel less.

Well, I’m going to try to blog with greater regularity. Unlike previous blog entries my writing henceforth will be less thought out. I’m making it a personal goal to write SOMETHING for this blog everyday. This may get messy…