Friday, August 15, 2014

Let's Talk About Suicide, Baby


This was going to be an issue that we let slide into the pile with so many other things we would have liked to write about this summer (there's been so much), but sometimes there are some people who write some things that crawl into this brain and gnaw at the edges. To eradicate it, is to write. To cleanse the mind...

Mental illnesses, like true chronic depression, is not reserved for the successful, or the talented...nor is it reserved for the poor or disenfranchised.
Mental illness is often due to chemical imbalances of the brain, among many other factors.
(Causes of Depression http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/causes/con-20032977)
Those chemical imbalances know no income level, or social status, or level of talent.

To spread a blanket over suicide and claim it to be selfish, or claim it to be for certain people who deserve it (whether it be because they lived a great life they couldn't handle, or a shitty one, or because they were an icon, or a nobody) is presuming you know the life or support structure, or health, or the mind, of the person who has committed it (or attempted it). You assume a lot the minute you judge someone for making a decision about their life, just because they weren't thinking about you (or the people so many claim loved them), or because their life was a certain way, or worse, because you feel the experience you had with the same mindset/illness is somehow the same for everybody else.

Perhaps the person doesn't have a support system, or if they do, that support system doesn't take their issues seriously, because...you know...depression so bad that they can't imagine a way out other than to kill themselves, is selfish, "all in their head", not real, their fault...
It's not true, (even if you think it is) but often there is nobody in that support system that has ever truly experienced severe depression. In these cases, it's true that nobody understands.
But luckily there are countless people in the world that do. They aren't always easy to find, but if you can't be supportive, you can help find people who are. You can help. You can't help by being judgmental or selfish, you can help, by helping, by listening. Watching for the signs. Understanding the illness.

Depression is not simply about being sad, or being unhappy with your life, or being "bored". 
While those things contribute to overall depression, it's much more.
(Symptoms: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/symptoms/con-20032977)

Another problem that is growing increasingly common for mental health disorders and issues is the prevalence of them (the terms) being depreciated in meaning by people who pretend for attention, or people who joke (for attention), or people who insert the term that describes very real symptoms as a verb, to sound relevant or make their report "pop" (such as in the media), or people who are simply uneducated and inexperienced with real mental health issues. Or people who are ignorant and hateful.

A good example of a depreciated mental illness going the way of depression, is schizophrenia. Over the last year or so there has been an increase in media personalities using schizophrenia as a verb to describe something random, or disordered; just like people saying they are depressed, when they are simply sad, this distorts the true meaning of the word. This devalues the seriousness of the issue, reduces the likelihood of people dealing with real symptoms to be taken seriously, or feel that they'll be taken seriously.

You don't have to agree, of course. But many mental illnesses, including real depression, have very real symptoms - physiological and psychological. Sometimes symptoms people have become skilled at hiding for periods of time. Sometimes signs and symptoms that are obvious - but in a world where people are increasingly concerned with self, they go unnoticed, or become demonized.

And just because you've experienced some sort of depression, and were able to overcome it, doesn't mean everybody can. You can't expect people to be as strong as you, but you can encourage them to be strong. Belittling people, making them a victim of your ignorance, is not a display of strength.

Mental illness is illness.

[BUT...don't forget: 'A Message To Your Diagnosis' http://just-call-me-frank.blogspot.com/2012/05/message-to-your-diagnosis.html]

Bottom line...
  • You would no more tell a person's family grieving the death of someone who suffered from cancer that because you had cancer and got chemo and beat the cancer, that their family member should have been able to.
  • You would no more walk around saying "Man, I'm feeling so cancerous today".
  • You would no more tell a person with Ebola that because you had the flu pretty bad once you know exactly how they feel.
The one thing that does not help is making people who, sadly, are a victim of the chemicals in their brain, feel like they are victim of your hate, your ignorance, your scorn...your bullying.

You calling people who commit suicide selfish (or weak) is not going to stop them from taking their life, if anything, they want to stop hearing how their mental health issues are just them being needy, or wanting attention, or being weak.
People who think about committing suicide, or commit suicide, see no way out of their situation...of the hell in their brain.
You boarding up the door is not going to help them, talking about it openly and compassionately just might.

suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Countdown

Classes start in eleven days.
ELEVEN DAYS.

Meanwhile, painting "season" is coming to a close, there just won't be time (plus we'll have to deal with harvesting and preserving the garden!). Guess this means summer is coming to a close. <sad face>

{Meanwhile, check out the new website and domain for paintings at: www.graphicallyfrank.com}

The anticipation and anxiety have been churning up madness, and we've been doing the best balancing act possible. It feels like this brain is being crushed by the skull, all too often it feels a struggle to grasp a single line of thought and pull it out of the cloud. With only two semesters left before graduation it's the final countdown. The class load is heavier, the topics more focused...but for the forensic science class (yay!) and the class related to problems in political science. By the looks of the books for the POLSCI class, the problem being tackled this semester in the environment and energy in political policy. So...get ready to read a bunch of crap about that.

The mix of classes is really exciting this semester, and there are 12 books to plow through - some really interesting ones, like Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media is Not the Answer by Karen Sternheimer, and Pop Culture Freaks: Identity, Mass Media, and Society by Dustin Kidd (don't worry, those links take you to Goodreads, not Amazon).

Oh, and there's another really cool nutritional study coming up that we'll be taking part in, which requires strict diet (set and provided by the scientists), heavy monitoring and staying at the facility (while still allowing for work and classes) twice, for eleven days at a time. Why would we do that, you ask?! It's going to cover just about all the remaining tuition costs for Fall semester, so, really...it's just logical. Plus it'll be a savings on
a) gas ($90 dollars for each eleven day stay)
b) groceries
c) alcohol
d) time (80+ minutes of travel a day).
It would almost be stupid not to do it. It would be. It would be totally stupid to pass it up just because of the inconvenience of not sleeping at home (and having all meals and liquids dictated by strangers).
But, we can have visitors. :-)

It feels like the summer went too fast and we didn't do enough writing. It's unfortunate because there were a lot of events some of us would have liked to cover, if only to keep our writing in check, because it feels like this semester is going to be heavy in essay writing, since there is only ONE actual textbook for one of the six classes, the others are destined to be springboards to further research and writing. Having not written all summer, suddenly it's hard to remember how to write anything, let alone in the style of essay, despite having written a stack of them last semester.
Surely just the most average of the anxiety creeping into the space between skull and skin.

So, eleven days and our schedule changes again (schedules are sort of a linchpin in our mental health)...we'll stay positive until proven otherwise.

As always, thanks for reading even though you probably had something better to do.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Midnight Birthday Poem

Yesterday,
turned this body,
a new age;
many old pages,
keep sticking,
resisting decay.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Don't Freak Out, We're Reading Your Tweets

Writing has been slow (because we haven't been doing it), as we've been doing a lot of painting this summer/year - we're working on number ten. The goal for the year is 12, but once classes start again this fall there just won't be time to paint.
Painting has also been very therapeutic, as usual. So that's good, and lends to less writing.
It's providing a lot of time to think about things...and people...in between trying to get shadows and angles right.

But we're not here today to talk about painting, or writing. Nope. We're here to talk about reading tweets.

Tweets. Wow. Pretty sure it's been literally years since we've done a post on social media. Back in the day they used to occur fairly often. It all changes so fast now to actually be relevant weeks later though, so it's not a great use of writing time.

Anyway.

In case you're freaking out because all of a sudden it seems like we're reading your Tweets, or reading them more than usual, (you'll know if we've been giving you "stars" [for your interesting/sick/funny/insightful/good tweets] when we previously haven't) there's something you should know.

After Twitter's most recent update it was nearly impossible to see the Tweets of the people we follow, but for all of the Retweets. (soooo many retweets... - and a lot of people aren't exactly judicious in selecting what they retweet...ya know?)
Talk about unmanageable. And repetitive. AND, it kinda sucks the ability to see the Tweets of people chosen to read by following them back. Not to mention when you only have 10 or 20 minutes on a break at work...forgettaboutit.

It's not that retweets are bad. We LOVE to see them actually (the good ones, anyway), but when they again) after the last update we had to take "drastic" measures.
Image Source
ended up in the lists (
So, over the past two weeks or so we've been turning off everybody's retweets.

Wait. It's not so bad. Don't be angry (some people think it's a bad thing to have their retweets turned off)!

They're almost all turned off now. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.

NOW, we just go to people's timelines/bio page and see RTs that way, and then, of course, there are the retweets in lists. Lists, which we have always found to be essential to the enjoyment of Twitter. Organize. Organize. Organize.

So, what this means is we see the actual Tweets of the people we follow in our timeline stream now, and that's it, which makes it much more fun/interesting/efficient...but also, it might creep you out...because now we can cover more ground and read YOUR Tweets.

So don't freak out.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer: A Garden Update

It's been a month and a half of turbulent weather. For a couple of days most of one of the gardens was under water. It wasn't looking good. But then suddenly everything started to pop. It looks like it's going to a second year of successful gardening. The only problem is that it's been hard to get into the garden and weed properly more than once, because of the rain and the massive amount of mosquitoes. Additionally, for some reason, there are way more weeds this year compared to last year. Their seeds must have come in on the wind.

At least the herbs on the back porch: four basil, a marjoram, English thyme, oregano, rosemary and chocolate mint plant, create an inviting smell and have been useful for weeks now (can't make enough variations of chimichurri sauce). *sigh* Summer. It should always be summer.

But it's been a busy summer with work, painting (four completed last month), travel, house guests and general relaxing before the ramp-up to next semester. While there's been plenty of mental health issues to write about of late, it seems redundant, and it's really not always the right time to lay your issues and insecurities out into the digital world.

In any case, here are some beautiful photos from the garden.

Three kinds of beans (painted pony, cannelino, purple queen)
Summer Squash (there are patty pans and zucchini...PATTY PANS!!)
Baby Green Pepper
(there is also a red, yellow and purple pepper, two poblanos and four jalapeno plants). 
Cippolini onions (there are red and white planted)

Sweat Peas
Cherry Tomatoes
(there are a total of about 17 plants of various breeds)
Butterhead Lettuce
Baby Leaf Lettuce
Eggplant Blossoms
Potato Blossoms
The South Plot
(full of winter squash, cilantro, swiss chard, kale, carrots, onions [red, yellow and white], leeks, potatoes, broccoli, beets, etc...oh, and weeds)
It's all going to pop at once and the amount of produce will be unmanageable, but that's when the real fun begins...canning, dehydrating, eating. So. Much. Eating. :-)