Category Archives: Drugs

manson

A Tale of Charles Manson: Marriage & Manipulation

The internet erupted after learning Charles Manson, 80, was granted a license to marry 26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, who prefers the name “Star,” because Manson says she’s a “Star in the Milky Way.”

A mousy young woman, Star looks eerily similar to one of Manson’s most fanatical murderous followers, Susan “Sadie Mae” Atkins.

Not eligible to apply for parole again until he’s 92 in 2027, Charles Manson is arguably among the world’s most famous prisoners, and by rights shouldn’t be alive for his present-day notoriety. Sentenced to death in ‘71 with four followers, they lucked out when California’s death penalty was nixed in 1972. Those on Death Row were given a stay of execution and death sentences commuted to life in prison. Within six years, death was back on the books and is still in effect today, but Manson and his “Family” stayed blessed with the gift of life behind bars.

Marriage, some argue, is a basic human right. I would agree, and have long supported that premise in support of LGBTQ seeking marriage rights. But you need to be human before you deserve basic human rights, and Manson is far from.

To understand why some are so outraged about this “right” being extended to Charles Manson, we need to start at the beginning.

The Formative Years

Manson’s criminality and depravity began young. Born to a partying teen mom who’d get in trouble with the law later, Charlie grew up fascinated with guns, smitten with stealing, and constantly in trouble with authorities. By 13, he ran away from Boy’s Town, where it’d been hoped he’d find a better path. His would be a life of reform schools and prison then on.

READ THE REST over at the Vancouver Observer. Click here.

Depression isn’t a CHOICE, People.

This post was in response to something that has now been removed from the web. The author of the original post, Mary Rose, in comments below has asked that this similarly get removed. While I understand why she thinks post is “hateful,” I respectfully disagree — this is an angry post, and anger was an understandable reaction to what was originally written, from my perspective.

I’m also of the belief that we NEED discussion about these things, and Mary Rose isn’t the first person to maybe be a little quick-worded in writing about something daunting like depression, and therefore I will not be removing this post.

This post should be seen as a snapshot of what someone’s mental process is after reacting to something they take the wrong way.

Anger isn’t hate. It’s a justifiable emotion, and, yeah, I was angry when I wrote this. It doesn’t mean I wish Mary Rose harm, or that I disrespect HER. I took issue with her words, and that’s clear here, I felt. The comments are where to disagree with me, of course.

Times like this are when we learn what kind of reach our language choices have — and LOTS of people are guilty of telling people to cheer up when depressed, whether they mean it as flippantly as it sounds, or not, and it’s to ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE this posting is directed. Thanks for reading.

***

So, I started my Saturday wanting to drop-kick someone for a post they wrote in which they asserted depression was a choice and one could just happily choose to move on.

Know how I know someone’s never experienced REAL depression?

When they tell you to move on, to “choose” a better attitude, to buck up and deal. C’mon, everybody! GET HAPPY! Let’s watch the Partridge Family and have a love-in!

Here’s an image for you. Tortured guy goes through life dealing with endless depression, finally decides being unhappy to his very core is literally too painful to endure anymore, and kills himself. Let’s say there is a St. Peter and some Pearly Gates. Suicided Dude shows up there, and St. Pete goes, “What the hell are you doing? You coulda just CHOSEN to stop being depressed. Wow. Waste of life there, selfish dick.”

And Suicided Dude’s jaw drops, and he goes, “WHAT? I coulda JUST STOPPED being depressed? Why the fuck didn’t anyone tell me it was like putting on pants? JUST DON’T DO IT? Who knew? Aw, man. Don’t I feel like a dumbass. The next 40 years mighta ROCKED.”

Right. Sounds pretty fucking dumb, doesn’t it?

That’s never gonna happen. Why?

BECAUSE DEPRESSION ISN’T A CHOICE.

Here’s what Hippy Guru Writer says about “leaving depression behind” in this blog post:

Depression is manifested anger and fear. An extension of the above. Take Usana multivitamins, Univera cell renewal, and exercise for fun. Do it alone if you feel like everyone thinks you’re a loser. Get out of your stale mindset. Enjoy the space inside of yourself and tell the demons inside that they are not welcome there anymore. Tell the part of you that doesn’t believe in you that while you appreciate its special, non verbal brand of tough love, you’re renting all the space inside of you out to new tenants. These new tenants are all the magnificent, hidden, scared, doubtful parts of you that have been beaten down by the giant called depression. Tell it to leave you now. You do not need it to sit on your face anymore.

MULTI-VITAMINS? Really? 30 push-ups? Insta-glee? “Yo, demons! Get outta my space! Hasta la sayonara, BADDY!” What the fuck?

I’d just tell her to fuck off but she’d tell me I’m manifesting my anger and fear. Which, actually, I kind of am.

Namaste. Hakuna matata. Awimbaway!

Image 'Depression' by David Baldinger. Source: http://www.dbaldinger.com/drawings/depression.html. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Generic

Here’s the deal. I’ve been down the depression road and back again. In my descents into darkness, there are a few things I’ve gleaned to be true.

(Reminder: I’m some chick sitting cross-legged on the floor in boxers as I write this, and not a trained professional who bled money for a degree to learn about psychotherapy. Mm-kay?)

Anyhoo. I’ve learned there seems to be both SITUATIONAL and BIOLOGICAL depressions. Now, situational is when it kinda makes sense that you’re down over a long period of time.

Maybe you’ve lost a job, got dumped, shattered your leg when skiing, have creditors chasing you down and no prospects, or maybe you had your mother die. Whatever. Being depressed then not only makes sense, it’s part of being human, and it’s a necessary journey for our growth. It’s not a DEFECT to be ignored and leap-frogged over, it’s a natural situational depression that means our soul’s hurting a little. It may be treated with chemicals, diet, and/or exercise, and that can take the edge off and make fighting one’s way back easier. It still takes a long time to do right.

Biological depressional, however, is a total beast and the reason why it can lead to suicide is because your chemistry overtakes logic, emotion, and everything else. It’s being under a black cloth and not knowing how to find your way out. At its darkest, it is a living hell that isolates you from your dreams, family, friends, and every aspect of your life. Your anger and hopelessness catastrophically cut you off from everything and everyone.

The most insidious part of depression is how it can take over and you’re so incredibly in the dark you don’t even realize it’s an illness. It’s been nearly 6 years since a chemical depression brought me to the brink of suicide, thanks to bad-ass birth control pills I was on that caused an imbalance in me.

The idea of that EVER happening again is terrifying because I had absolutely no control over this darkness that was consuming me for the first 4 months. It was a horrifying descent to the brink of madness for me, and I thank my lucky stars I got past it.

But then assholes like this Hippy Guru Writer come along, who think they’re being helpful for depressed people by going, “Come on, Skippy! You can do it! Just a little hill, and we’ll have climbed right on outta Unhappyville, boys and girls! YAY, HAPPY-CHOICE TIME!”

And do you know what that does to someone who’s actually clinically, biologically depressed? It increases the self-loathing, hopelessness, and frustration, because they remember the 287 times they have gone to bed at night telling themselves it would be better in the morning, promising that they would get up, “do everything right” and have a great day. Then, they get up, a trigger happens, and they’re fighting tears and hyperventilating, just because work beckons in 45 minutes and they need to “pretend” again.

So, on behalf of everyone who’s currently being crushed by depression, I’d like to tell you to fuck right off if you think you’re a part of the solution by telling someone to “get a grip” and move on. They don’t have the objectivity to do it for themselves, thanks to people like you and whatever chemistry’s at fault.

Luckily, I’ve fought depression on both the chemical and situational fronts, and I can tell you it’s as different as summer and winter. In my situational depressions, occasionally things transpire that I find fun and enjoyable, I might even have a whole day or week that’s good, and those are the natural highs/lows of a system that’s functioning properly despite suffering a recent blow the mind needs to heal from.

In my one chemical-based depression based in imbalance, it got darker and darker so that no light entered my life at all. I tried to think my way out of it, do things to cheer myself up, but it often backfired and became worse because it meant I really TRIED, only to FAIL AGAIN, so it perpetuated the feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness that define true depression.

Of course, being unable to “cheer” myself up then had nothing to do with failure at all — that was the nature of the illness. It took two years to undo, but I did it — with the help of medication, exercise, diet, and great friends around me. There was no one cure. There usually isn’t.

The last year and a bit, I’ve been in a mild situational depression because I knew I was unhappy, and I couldn’t figure out what part of my life was the problem. But that’s not actually a situational depression — it’s just being plain old unhappy, indicating change is needed.

I can’t tell you how many times I tried to “think” myself out of my situational grumpiness, either. There are times when thinking one’s self out of a mood works, but when there are actual causes and those causes haven’t been mitigated, choosing “happy” isn’t usually enough. Sometimes, you actually need to change a lot in your life, and that’s not always an option — especially not in this economy, which has given a lot of people reason to be depressed and scared.

You may think you’re giving depressed people a pep talk, but in actuality, you’re likely part of the problem.

Here’s an idea. Be quiet. Listen. Ask them if they need to talk, and just listen. Sometimes, there are no solutions. Sometimes, it just takes a while of hangin’ on, holdin’ out, and hoping. And most of us do those things in different ways, whether you approve or not.

But if all it took was a decision, they would’ve fucking solved life a while ago. Mm-kay?

Don’t just get off your high horse, shoot it. Please.

RIP, David Foster Wallace:Some Thoughts on Suicide & Depression

David Foster Wallace committed suicide this weekend. 46. Hung himself.

The guy had made a career out of being brilliantly insightful and funny. Yet he somehow ended up on the dark side from which suicide seems the only out.

I’ve tried to write about depression over the last couple of years, because I know a fair bit about what it feels like to be on the wrong side of it. I’ve lived with others who’ve been suicidal. I understand depression in a whole slew of ways.

I’m on the other side of it these days, and think I’ll stay on the other side a while yet. I still struggle with being all happy-sunshiney, because, let’s face it, that works for demure screen sirens of old, but for the rest of us on Planet Earth in the here-and-now, happiness not some ubiquitous state we tap into with the flick of a finger or a “Hey, I know!” notion in the morning, as much as Dale Carnegie wants you to believe happiness is always a choice.

Even now, the quasi-adversities that pepper my life temper my glee-factor something fierce, but that’s humanity for you. I’m in touch with my moody glory. I can often think my way into better moods, though, as much as I like to mock the notion.

I mock it because depression is when the ability for levity and “opting out” of moods takes its leave.

“Real” depression is a whole ‘nother beast than the “normal” depression. I can shake my depressions these days because they’re just that: normal. I know it might all be better again tomorrow. I know bad days are just part of the mix, just like finding surprise bad produce in the midst of your seemingly selectively-chosen product when you get home from the veggie store. Shit happens.

But not to severely depressed people. Even trying to “think” your way out of it doesn’t work. I wrote this posting on August 15th, 2006. What you don’t see is, that even though I talked a good game on the night of the 15th, the 16th became the first and only time in my life that suicide seemed like a good choice. There was a point in the day when I came apart. I came wholly apart. I worked alone in my office that day and had a complete breakdown to the point that I had an “emergency” call placed to me by my old therapist I hadn’t spoken to in years. A 45-minute conversation talked me down from that fever-pitch of suicidal thoughts, and things were a little better in the morning.

I remember that blackness now, and even thinking about how I got to be from the person I loved earlier that year to the woman I was that day just sends shivers up me still. Because I know, as much as I loathe the easy way out that suicide is, as much as I pride myself on taking on any challenge and usually winning… I know I was ready to give it all up. And I have no idea how I got to that point.

That’s the terrifying thing about depression. When you’re no longer yourself, how can you possibly act in ways that are right for you? When you have no logic, how do you make the logical choice?

Depression isn’t something that occurs to the weak. I’m here to fucking tell you I know more about “surviving” than most people of my age, and I almost didn’t survive my depression, despite having survived so much else in my life.

(As I’ve said in the past: My suicidal depression was as a result of trying to suppress my period through birth control pills. I’m not sure I will ever take birth control again. I still recommend it for the average woman, but believe me I do so with massive caveat emptor attached. However, my life went off the rails at the same time, for what was pretty much the existential “perfect storm”, and perhaps the hormones were just the straw on the existential camel’s back.)

Weak is not a word people ever, ever, ever describe me as in real life. Not in any definition of the word.

Yet somehow the stigma of depression = weakness endures. It’s why I’m so hell-bent on writing about it, because *I* have no stigma about the depressions I’ve had. Why should I?

And someone like David Foster Wallace just inexplicably disappears from the planet one day because he’s committed suicide. Was he depressed? Probably. Maybe we’ll find out. Either way, William Styron’s incredible Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness is something I think any moody creative type should read. The look that brilliant novelist takes at his own suicidal depression and the links he explores, believing his suicidal tendencies perhaps had to do with his creative nature, is something that has stayed with me over the years.

I’m obviously a highly introspective writer. I do it well, it’s my schtick. That said, there are dark and dingy places in the recesses of my mind that require stoicism and fearlessness, but particularly tempering, before I go trekking through them, and I find it healthy to remember just how much toying with the shadows of our psyche can unsettle us at times.

Styron quoted the book of Job from the Bible in the opening of Darkness Visible, and it’s something that anyone who has truly, truly endured depression can understand.

“For the thing I greatly fear is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.”

~The Book of Job

In depression, the trouble always comes.

Because, when you’re depressed, being around life itself reminds you of everything you once had and feel has now become lost to you. It’s the inability to connect your reality with what your perception is, no matter how much you may be aware that it’s your perspective that’s the problem. It’s like looking at life through a cracked, distorted mirror. No matter how you try to defragment the view, it’s your perception and not the image that is broken.

Depression makes no sense. Suicide can never be understood. Unless, for the briefest of moments, it once seemed to make sense to you.

And even though I had that moment of clarity when “out” seemed better than “in”, I still don’t understand the choice of suicide. I don’t understand how life can make death seem appealing. I don’t understand having the courageous mix of fear and foolishness required to take that easy, all-too-permanent out, since all I had was the notion and not yet the motivation to make it so.

All I really understand about depression is that it’s not about weakness. It’s about something that we as a race still don’t understand, and we still can’t control. But we can at least try to talk about it. We can help remove the stigma that comes with a diagnosis of depression or mood disorders. We can make it easier for people, however brilliant and famous they are, to admit they’re powerless over this thing that’s come from the shadows only to choke all the light.

All I really understand is that it’s a crime, in this age of information and knowledge, that such rampant ignorance and judgment still exists regarding depression.

Because it’s why people like David Foster Wallace often think a rope over a rafter or a bullet in the head is easier than trying to end that chokehold of darkness over their light.

The Bi-Monthly Friday-Night Bottle-of-Red Requisite Posting

In vino veritas.

The price of truth, it seems, runs $9.99 per 750 mils. Yum.

I’ve recently cut out my crack-like addiction to the tasty, chewy, buttery, vanilla-y Rice Krispie squares from the market down the street. That, coupled with yoga and a few more veggies in my diet as well as weight-lifting, and I’m noticing (just as of tonight) some new toning in my midsection. Like, what? I have rib bones? Who knew? Continue reading

In Vino Veritas: Lord Help Me

So, I’m doing my hump day in brilliant fashion. I’m drunk. Like, flat-out, I’m a 1/2 glass from the bottom of my bottle of Sicilian red wine. Mm, mm, good. Yeah.

What can I say? I was working on a tv show about red wine this afternoon, and I thought, “That sounds good. Sure.” So, that and a 440-calorie deluxe mini-pizza and I’m just as happy as can be. Albeit somewhat wobbly.

Because I’m drunk, heh heh, and happy about it, and in vino veritas, and all that, I’m going to take a moment to not really apologize, but maybe clear the air or something here.

I have been short-tempered of late, probably pretty much clear throughout my life. It has been odd and strange to be on my end of it, because I’m not sure where it comes from. One word springs to mind: hormones.

Two weeks ago, I visited my doctor and said, “You know, I think it’s time I got off the meds.”

If you’re new to this blog, fuck, well, the story’s too long to indoctrinate ya now, but suffice to say my longtime readers know I’ve been on quite the ride the last couple of years, but given that I heavily edit this blog and temper it from my real life, all y’all don’t know jack. Really.

So, long story short, I lost my nut two years ago when birth control pills fucked me up more than I ever could have dreamed. I still think birth control pills are an important tool, and that my experience is probably the exception to the rule, but that, if you do decide to use the pill (and I’d approve that choice, with condoms), you got to monitor your moods and tell those closest to you to help keep you objective about how you’re reacting to life, because I tripped the wire, man. I really tripped the wire.

I am telling you this: I have lost my mother, who was THE most important person to me, after caring for her before her death; I have survived nearly a decade of chronic pain; I have survived nearly dying on a severely injuring motorbike accident… and I have never, ever endured the darkness I endured two summers ago. I couldn’t have written about the darkness I was in. You didn’t want to read that, I certainly didn’t want to actualize it on the page. I couldn’t talk about it. I kept trying to talk myself out of it; intellectually I knew my life wasn’t that bad, so what was it?

The further I get from it, the more I realize it had to be the pills.

So, back to the present. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds, the good old-fashioned way. I’ve not used trainers or clubs or organizations, and I haven’t even had a gym membership. But I’ve gotten it done. I’ve redecorated my place, tackled my debt…

But then in the last couple of months, though I’ve intellectually felt like I’m going someplace awesome, my emotions were just always a little too much on edge for all I KNOW I have accomplished.

So, I chatted with the doc. Because, you know, us women and hormones, man, it’s a delicate dance. I started wondering if maybe it was time to end the anti-depressants, since they’d clearly done their job.

Now, the doc only found out about 3 weeks ago I’d lost 35 pounds, so this 40-pushing-50 thing is news all the better. So, I show up for the appointment, tell him maybe it’s time I move on. He looks at me and goes, “Steff, depressed people don’t lose 40 pounds, and they’re not really into redecorating much. I think maybe, yeah, it’s time.”

But truth be told, I hadn’t really thought I’d been that off-kilter until the last couple days. Coincidentally, I just got off the meds Sunday. A couple days and that stuff starts to clear up, like a long fog in the winter. (Though, ironically, I’m all a-tipsy now. :)

In the not too distant past, I’ve written a rant about comments, chewed a few people out, you know. Kinda not-too-fuzzy stuff. It’s out of character for me to throw it out there — politically, I’m as shrewd as the fuckin’ day is long, baby, so I don’t tend to put my foot in my mouth all that often.

But it seems of late I have. I think I was expressing my true feelings, but I normally would’ve put a cork in it and just dismissed it as people spouting off when maybe they should’ve done a little self-editing. Then, ironically, I too failed to self-edit. Funny how that works.

Anyhow. This is me saying I’ll behave more. I’m not saying I’m sorry, ‘cos maybe we all should blow a fuse now and then and get that shit off our chests… heh, after four years of blogging, it was about time I ranted about comments. Hah. It’s like parental advice — sooner or later you just gotta speak your piece.

But I could have done it better. I could have been nicer. Hell, I should have. One thing I’ve never claimed to be is perfect. And I’ve always loathed hormones. Damn estrogenies. So, you know, older, wiser, and on it rolls. Will. Behave. Better.

All right, so I was a bit of an ass. Yes. True. But I wasn’t entirely incorrect. :)

(My theory is, with enough time passing for the birth control pills to finally be irrelevant, my weight loss success, my improved diet, a more relaxing job situation, and improved finances, that my body chemistry has become correct all by itself, but by continuing to be medicated, it’s actually been causing a new imbalance. Strange, huh? But it makes sense to me. Ay yi yi.)