And…sunk

I posted here a few days ago something I’d started writing a week earlier. The descent.

On my table, next to my desktop PC that I use when I telework, sat my documents for my tax return. They stayed there as the deadline loomed.

For me, life isn’t a bleak and unrewarding path through Time. I am generally upbeat and energetic. Life is an opportunity to laugh or make someone laugh. It doesn’t matter whether it’s having brunch with a friend, doing some DIY, or reading a book on a mobile device, there are always things to enjoy.

Not so much recently.

First, work had to go. More specifically, I stopped going. I stayed home. I did nothing. Not the kind of nothing you sometimes choose to do on vacation. Not a relaxing nothing, but a tiring weary nothing. I didn’t even check my e-mail.

Second, kids…what kids? Fortunately, the two youngest girls living with me at the moment are teenagers. Parental interaction can be interesting, but it’s not always necessary. Having a little space from dad is OK. They didn’t get worried that I was out of their way and letting them get on with homework on their own. Honestly, I’m not even sure they noticed I was doing nothing at all. Is that a bad thing?

Third, sleep didn’t come. I went to bed early or late, but couldn’t get to sleep. Or I woke early, feeling exhausted, but couldn’t get back to sleep. Dizzy with tiredness, I lay there, wondering what I’d not be doing today.

One of the days off work was a telework day. I didn’t have to clean up and drive downtown, so I tried to do some work. Normally these are my most fun working days ever. No shaving! Or shower! Clothing is optional! I did four hours and gave up. And lay down for the rest of the day.

It took me some time to write my last post, which is why it was broken into two parts. I was so ‘busy’ lying around. Or looking in the kitchen and not seeing anything interesting to eat. Or putting off a shower because it seemed a lot of effort. Or watching some TV on the iPad and then realizing I’d missed minutes because I’d spaced out.

After some days of feeling down, I accepted the counsel of a friend, who you know as That Precarious Gait. I rested my mind. I didn’t fight back. I looked for a mental ‘fluffy blanket’ in the familiar things that are comfortable. Her list included: watching favorite feel-good movies, reading favorite books, getting enough sleep, long walks, drinking plenty of water and tea, and many other useful ideas.

My experience with dark times is limited. Had I started my own list, I’d have included some of these ideas, but I found more than I’d have come up with alone. I guess we all have our own kinds of comfort that take the edge off the dark days. There was one other item that should have been obvious: Checking in with friends. Reaching out to friends, even when the instinct is to withdraw further, provides support that makes a tangible difference.

— ooOoo —

(My ’emoticon’ for “some days have passed” appears again.)

I started to get better.

The sun no longer glared at me; it shone yellow. The kids appeared curiously ‘interesting’; not just there eating my food. I could concentrate; I wanted to get up and get dressed and be outside. I had an itch that couldn’t be scratched by doing nothing at all.

For me, my nature is not somber. I can be felled, but I don’t stay down for very long. I am wired like that. It’s not some inner strength. It’s not courage. It’s not something that I knowingly control. For you, it might be very different. I think my kind of depression is tied to pressures and life’s turmoil. Not just the daily kind, but the extraordinary kind of confluence of events that happens rarely. Your kind of depression may be partly contingent on Life, but it may have a hormonal or biochemical element as well. Had I stayed depressed, I’d have asked my doctor for pills.

I feel deeply for those whom Life has dealt poor cards. In the most general terms, I’ve led a very lucky life. From the great people I’ve met in so many places to the opportunities to work anywhere I wanted for so long. I’ve got wonderful kids who will one day grow from being teenagers (*sigh*) into adults that I am proud of (exactly how long can be they be “teens”??). I’ve been blessed with a quirky mind that’s not too slow and a sense of humor that slices and dices Life to expose the funny underbelly (if my analogy isn’t getting too messy). So many people — most people — don’t get the same chances, or have them and more but are crippled by addiction or emotional issues.

I end this diversion off normal programming with the thought that we should all pass on a little support to those that need it. We owe it.

Posted in Family Life, Mental Health, Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Sinking?

I am a short way through the Pilot for the TV show, House M.D.

It doesn’t give anything away to tell you that there is a lady lying in a hospital bed, and she is sick and unresponsive, although she doesn’t appear to be in any pain.

For you, your instinctive first reaction might be sympathy. Or possibly empathy for her family. Or even plain curiosity about what is wrong with her.

It is telling that my first reaction was different. The patient isn’t in pain and I saw that she was (a) resting in bed; (b) being cared for by other people; and (c) in no hurry to be anywhere else. My first reaction was a surprise to me: envy.

Therefore I can deduce I may need some time off. But why?

My kids are with me every second week these days. Their mom has them the other weeks. She’s back in their lives (without a fair accounting of the cost to me and those around me for the time she was not). The girls aren’t the direct stressors in my life that they were two years ago.

When the girls are not with me, my To Do list is still so long that I don’t do it all. Sometimes I watch a movie or a TV show for a little downtime before going to sleep. Still, I have less time pressure than I had a couple of years ago.

My current consulting position isn’t particularly stressful at the moment. I remember when I had challenging problems to solve. I remember when I bounced into the building and headed for my office, full of enthusiasm and energy. I remember the excitement of being on a mission to get something before the day was over. Not anymore. It’s fair to apportion some blame on my Government boss. He is more apt to say no than yes, more apt to avoid change than embrace it, more apt to say he is building a plan than to actually build a plan. He’s not a horrible guy, he is just a drag on forward progress.

My relationship with Lillian hasn’t gone well this year. It’s been on and off. We have different ideas about why. She’s not able to defend herself in this forum, so I won’t criticize her. For all I know, we’re both right. This is definitely one cause of stress in my life, but it’s not enough to explain how I feel right now.

When I wake in the morning, it takes all my effort to get up and get moving. Not that staying in bed helps. I just can’t sleep properly anymore.

— ooOoo —

As I don’t know how to do an emoticon for “four days have passed”, the above will have to do.

I’ve finished watching the pilot episode of House. Again, it won’t really be a surprise when I tell you Doc House and his team figured out what was wrong with his very comfortable patient. She left the hospital with an alacrity that may be reserved for avoiding more sarcastic remarks from Doc House.

I don’t think there’s anything challenging about my diagnosis at the moment. I went to my doctor because I’ve been too tired to go to work. I showed him a short list of my symptoms on my iPad. Wait, my iPad, you ask? Don’t judge me; I sometimes make a list while I’m waiting to see the doctor. This means I don’t walk out and smack my forehead because I forgot to tell him something important. (For example, that I also have a headache as a symptom. One that’s much worse for having smacked my forehead.) He drew some blood to eliminate other possibilities, but his first guess is the obvious: I may be depressed.

Maybe the damage on my life, my reserves, and my relationships is cumulative…

The past few years have had some significant ups and down. The girls didn’t try to create problems for me, but their problems haven’t been easy to watch or solve. Lillian was incredibly supportive when other people would have walked. Other friends have been very supportive too. But sometimes it just all gets too much. And it’s time to lie down for a while.

Posted in Family Life, Mental Health, Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

So, you want to spam me? But you can’t write!

I usually skim through the Spam section on the WordPress dashboard. Only once has it made an error that has resulted in me missing a comment that should have been allowed.

Most of the Spam comments are so ridiculous that WordPress has little difficulty identifying that they’re not real comments on the blog. Sometimes it has to try a little harder. Here is one example from today:

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My first and second thoughts were: WTF? In both meaning and why on earth anyone would think a comment like this would be accepted by a blogger even if it wasn’t intended to be spam.

A very clear downside to the Internet is its upside: that most things can be read from anywhere in the world and interaction can be global. In this particular case, it means that someone with incredibly poor English skills can attempt to scam people (the link appears to be that of a phishing site but I can’t be sure).

If the source URL wasn’t a spam site, this might be acceptable to some:

There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

The banal:

If you are going for best contents like I do, just pay a quick visit this web site all the time since it offers feature contents, thanks

The less-than-useful:

kredit trotz schufa… Oben auf dem halbdunklen Flur des oberen Stockwerkes standen ein paar alte grosse Schraenke

(You get brownie points if you can translate the second part of the text, which reads like it might have been taken from the book that starts with “It was a dark and stormy night…”)

Our battle for artistic freedom competes with the lively entrepreneurial spirit of some, although this latter term is actually a short-hand for the cheating scumbags that would like to have something from the ‘haves’. Sorry, I’m not giving today…

Posted in Humor, Miscellaneous | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Parenting Woes – Take #4092

I wrote this in June 2012, but never posted it. Life was frenetic then, as you will see.

Please take yourself back in time as I cover some of the events that shaped 2012 for my girls, events that will color their futures for many years to come.

I made reference in a post a while ago to teenage depression.

I had a lot of very nice comments and I didn’t reply to any of them. As you know, this is unusual for me.

That post was back in mid-February 2012. It’s been much busier in the four months since then.

Two of my girls have been in one hospital or another more than a half-dozen times in total since my last post. There have been many ER (Emergency Room or Casualty, for overseas readers) visits, some of which have involved grueling all-night stays. There have been extended stays in units. There has also been out-patient treatment for both of the girls. One now has a temporary Disability order.

A month ago my sweet Brigitte was ready to remove herself from this life. She had multiple plans for making this happen. She had been cutting herself. I didn’t know because of the clothes she wore. I’m not sure if these scars will ever heal completely. She was falling apart and didn’t tell anyone until after she had downed many pills. She’s lucky she picked Ibuprofen and not Tylenol (Panadol) or she would have died. In pain. And leaving behind unimaginable pain for her family and friends. Her depression pushed her to it. After weeks away (for the second time), she was returned to me a while ago, ‘fixed up’ by some clever doctors. Medication has solved this problem for her and she’s as cheerful now as she has ever been. It’s so very strange how a chemical imbalance in the brain can have such specific and dangerous effects.

Do you ever look at or hear about *those* parents that this happens to, and think that they should have seen it? That they should have known it was going to happen and done something to stop it? Or thought to yourself that they’re just not very good parents? I know I thought some of these things.

Living life on the other side of that equation is challenging. If you don’t know something is happening, how exactly do you know to go looking for it. What signs do teens show that are different from normal grumpiness or reluctance to do anything that doesn’t involve sleeping and friends and homework? Maybe better parents are quicker to see the signs…

As of today, one of my girls, my Charlotte, is still in hospital, for the fourth time. For me, the reasons are unclear. It hasn’t helped that she was assaulted while in hospital and police had to get involved — the Major Crimes unit — to consider what charges might be filed against another girl.

A few weeks earlier, Charlotte was causing problems for herself in a different way. She’d taken to exchanging what we will call “sensational” messages with a boy. His dad and I are friends. So, it was awkward to have *that* conversation with him. “Hey, did you know that your son is a senior and my daughter is four years younger? Any idea what they’ve been discussing together recently? No? Well, let’s go for a walk…”

To sum up, child-wise, challenges abound at my residence. Beds are or have been empty. Police, paramedics, and social workers have all stopped by regularly. Reports have been written (with a “no further action required” result each time). I’m a familiar face to the doctors and nurses at the local ER and get sympathetic greetings when they see me yet again. Alone or with my girlfriend. But never with my Runaway Wife. She refuses to participate, telling me that she needs to go to sleep, or she ignores my phone calls completely.

It will probably surprise you to learn that I’m relatively unruffled by all the commotion.

2011 was such a difficult year that dealing with these issues is easier. I’m mentally sturdy now.

Most recently, it has mostly been a case of one step at a time, responding to each crisis as it arises, and pondering what crisis might be around the corner if I don’t pay attention. It has been a deliberate process, even as I have watched the inevitable impact on my job prospects. There are times for fretting and times for simply responding.

It has helped enormously to have a girlfriend, especially one with such understanding of these issues, and one that has provided so much support. Together, we’ve not just weathered my own storms, but been able to work through some of hers too. There’s an entire post that I could write about the two of us. Our story is still unfolding and it would be hard to top the fun I had writing about our early beginnings.

Posted in Divorce, Family Life, Separation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment