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.