Friday, August 24, 2007

¡Ahora con mas cojones!

Well peeps, this post is long overdue. Think of it as a sort of addendum to my profile. It’s not that I was holding out on you before; it’s more that I was, in a sense, holding out on me. I don’t want to use the word denial because it’s so cliché, but alas, I can’t think of a better one.

In the introductory part of my profile, I make it sound as though I’m a bit vulnerable to the blues and all it takes is a daily hit of The Simpsons to keep me smiling. Ah, if only it were that simple.

Here’s how it really is:

In my experience, clinical depression (like various cancers) isn’t “cured” – it goes into remission. I guess at the time I wrote that profile, I’d been in remission for so long, it was all too easy to forget what a real depressive episode can be like. Guess what? I’ve recently been reminded.

It took about a week of living in hell before I had to admit defeat and realize I couldn’t “tough it out” on my own, so I finally made an appointment with my therapist. I guess this would be as appropriate a juncture as any to give my non-Canadian readers a little primer on staying well in the Great White North.

Canada has socialized healthcare, a source of national pride here, and a blessing for which I’m very grateful. Were it not for socialized healthcare, for instance, my younger brother would have to pay for his leukemia meds out-of-pocket – pretty tough on a construction worker’s salary. These are not cheap drugs, and my heart goes out to people burdened by this (or any other) disease and lack of access to treatment.

As far as mental health is concerned, medicare will cover sessions with a psychiatrist, but not a psychologist. Also, psychologists aren’t licensed to dispense meds, but psychiatrists (trained as medical doctors) are. Sessions with psychiatric nurses are also covered.

So who am I talking about when I refer to my “therapist”? You’ve probably figured by now that G-man and I are by no means affluent, and the smart money would say I need meds (yeah, I take antidepressants), so clearly a psychiatrist is in charge of my case. But I don’t think of him as my therapist. He’s the shrink who dispenses my meds.

I actually see two people, both of whom work at a teaching hospital.

My therapist is B, a psychiatric nurse I see for “talking therapy.” If there were a Nobel Prize for the Mental/Emotional Healing Arts, I would nominate B. I trust her implicitly. I tell her almost everything.

My psychiatrist – let’s call him Dr. Clueless – sees me to review my meds and show me off to his interns as a Great Success Story. I tell him almost nothing.

It took nearly two years before the Doc even got my name right. He has never been on time for an appointment, and always shows up with interns or psych students in tow to sit in during my sessions. Put me on the spot much? “Oh, I hope you don’t mind if Becky and Steve sit in with us today.” Like I’m supposed to say “Yeah, I do mind” when the people are standing right there. Okay, Becky and Steve, watch the lab rat do her thing now. Wonder if she’ll cry?

When it became clear to me this last bout of Darkness would not go away of its own accord, I got together with B first so I could vent and tell her all the self-destructive shit that had been on my mind. That session helped to a degree, but B knew (and I had suspected) that my meds would have to be tweaked, so natch, I had to make an appointment with the Doc. At least I was assertive enough this time to ask for a one-on-one appointment.

To the Doc’s credit, he respected my wishes and showed up (half an hour late) alone. I also appreciate that he didn’t try to over-medicate me. He raised my anti-depressant dosage slightly, but it remains low. I had a follow-up appointment with him a few days ago – again sans interns – and that went quite well. It went quite well, that is, until he started up with all this weird shit about how not everyone is meant to write and that perhaps I should pick up a flute and take beginner’s lessons. Beginner’s flute lessons? He might as well have said “basket weaving,” the condescending fucker.

The implication here is that I’m just too fragile to do what I’m doing right this minute, and I should be prepared to choose between happiness and creativity. I should be willing to settle for a state of emotional flatlining (that passes for happiness by Doc’s standards) and “get a hobby.”

And he actually brought up Kurt Cobain and Ernest-fucking-Hemingway, like these damaged icons are in any way pertinent. For starters, I’m not suicidally depressed, nor do I have that sort of history. But more to the point, I don’t write with an agenda to become rich and/or famous. I write because writing is my passion, and if passion is a “symptom” to be treated in pursuit of “normalcy”, then I’d rather be mental, thank you.

I’m on the waiting list now for a new shrink. He has an excellent reputation and apparently sees people as more than a sum of their disorders. I’m thinking he won’t automatically equate “creative” with “troubled”, although yeah, I admit the two sometimes go hand in hand. It’ll be a few weeks before I’ll get to see this guy, and switching shrinks will mean giving up B, who is considered (not by me) an adjunct to the Doc. I’ll miss her a lot, but she agrees I need a shrink who’s on the same page as me and doesn’t show up with an entourage.

The good news is that the meds, and my B appointments, have “kicked in” and I’m feeling better. I’ve been working out for the past few days and listening to guess what? Yeah, I know – you would think happy-clappy Manu Chao or crazy-good-time Gogol Bordello, but you’d be wrong. This depression has been a job for Nine Inch Nails! (Do ya’ think maybe Trent Reznor has some issues?) I guess angry just feels better than sad. For sure it burns more calories! Anyway, both anger and sadness are (*knocking wood*) out of my system now.

Amor, esperanza y paz,


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rainbow Boys

Floats just don't get much better than this, do they?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Depression? Existential Crisis? Or just a really shitty week?

Okay, I know it’s not my job here to be Madame Bring-Down, but some of you may be wondering why I haven’t posted in a while. You know who you are – I pay you well to read this shit. ;-)

Last weekend I fucked up pretty badly, and my fuck-up triggered days of waterworks alternated with excessive sleep. Couldn’t concentrate on anything more demanding than loading the dishwasher and folding a couple of t-shirts. Assume the fetal position, Papillon, and stay there until the self-hatred stops.

It was the day of the Gay Pride parade, which ranks above Christmas as being one of my favorite days of the year. G-man, LittleMiss, Yellowbeard, S-Monkey and I started the day in fine form here at our place with champagne and orange juice. We floated down to Beach Avenue to watch the parade, which was, as it is every year, a kaleidoscope of rainbow colored balloons and beautiful people. LittleMiss had even made rainbow fairy wings for Stella out of shiny pipe cleaners. Absurdly cute!

After the parade and in keeping with tradition, we took Stella home then wondered up to the Jupiter Café, which has two great decks and throws the best post-parade party in the neighborhood. What a stellar afternoon! Caught up with several friends and made a couple of new ones, all the while pacing myself (or so I thought) vis á vis booze consumption. I drank tall gin and sodas with lots of soda, and had an occasional bottle of Heineken. The Jupiter was offering bbq’d food, so I also ate well. Hours into the party, while I certainly wasn’t sober, neither was I a mess. I was pretty much on par with our whole group.

Eventually a democratic vote took place and a bunch of us decided we’d go continue the party in the outdoor pool at LittleMiss’s and YellowBeard’s building. I had even packed a bikini and sarong for just such an eventuality. It doesn’t take much effort to get me in, on, or under water, even if there’s no life to look at except peoples’ butts. (Depantsing attempts were made, but unsuccessfully. And not by me. I wouldn’t get depressed for a whole week about pulling someone’s Speedos down – hell, I’d still be laughing about it and hoping someone had caught it on camera.)

Of course ours wasn’t the only party group down at the pool, and the ambience was festive indeed. When I’m in the sort of euphoric state I was in that evening, it doesn’t occur to me to mistrust anyone, because of course everyone is sooh awesome; everyone is just a treasure from the universe. None of these fine folks would think to steal my purse, my Panama hat, and even my cheap-ass fucking flip-flops. Why would they? These things had been set down on the grass; obviously they belonged to someone.

Thank God for small mercies, I guess, because at least the fuckers were thoughtful enough to leave my dress and underthings so I didn’t have to take the elevator to our friends’ apartment half-naked. I didn’t notice at the time that my things were missing. We kept on drinking, taking goofy pictures of each other and dancing around LM’s and YB’s living room to loud crunchy music. J-poo and I both sort of melted on the couch eventually, and since G-man couldn’t have gotten either of us to move if he’d had a crane, we stayed.

I awoke the next morning on a surprisingly comfortable mat on the living room floor, and I even managed a bit of a smile. Feeling pretty good, all things considered. When LittleMiss got up, I asked her if G-man seemed pissed at me when he left. “Oh no, it’s all good,” she assured me. I’m happy to hear that. So happy that what I want to do now is wash my face, brush my teeth, put on some lipstick and say the word “breakfast” to everyone. And where would my toothbrush and lipstick be if they were? C’mon, what does the smart money say? That’s right. Those items would be in my purse, and if my purse were in my friends’ apartment, all would have been fine. But all was not fine. No purse. And I don’t care too much about the purse – it’s just a cheap little canvas thing – but it contained house keys, an ATM card, a Visa card, a cell phone AND (this one hurts the most) brand new prescription glasses that made both the world and my face just a tiny bit prettier.

After a thorough search of the apartment, Yellowbeard and I high-tailed it to the pool area and scoured every square inch of the surrounding garden. No purse. No flip-flops. No Panama hat – however, the multi-coloured bandana that was wrapped around it was floating aimlessly at the bottom of the pool. YellowBeard fished it out for me and I will treasure it always. It probably cost about 5 pesos.

Naturally we proceeded to make all the necessary phone calls like building management and the Jupiter, but to no avail. Yesterday I filed a police report online in the hopes that someone had turned my purse in, but I’m not too optimistic.

I want to be clear at this point that my depression has not been about the stuff. I mean, stuff is stuff, and stuff like glasses is essential stuff, and it all costs money, and we’re (like most people) forever balancing financial issues. Okay, I guess it is partly about the stuff. In my darker moments I’ve referred to myself as a “waste of space”, but this week I’ve come to realize that’s not fair, because I’m so much more than that. I’m a fucking LIABILITY. I think my lowest point came yesterday (the day before? It’s all kind of a miserable blur) when I said to G-man that I thought he’d be way better off without me. He looked at me like I’d just arrived from Neptune and said, in his own loving, inimitable way, that it was way past time for me to get a grip now and stop punishing myself. Well. You can take the girl out of the Catholic Church…

I think the crux of the matter comes down to this:

I lost control of a situation and I fucking hate that. It makes me feel powerless and stupid, and it's been happening entirely too often. I would also do well to acknowledge some absolutely-no-fun truths. Truth: I've lost a significant amount of weight since my jaw surgery, therefore I should drink less (if at all) to compensate. Truth: I take a medication (small dose, but still) that doesn't necessarily play well with booze. Truth: Drinking can be rather high-risk behavior for a depressive. (D-uh!)

* * * *

Anyway, the above paragraphs were written several days ago, and I still haven’t quite clawed my way out of the pit, but at least a bit of sunshine's getting in. I’m feeling moderately better. I managed to put a hold on the Visa card before any damage could be done, and my dear friend K-Belle informed me that Visa insures lost or stolen purchases, so I should be able to replace my glasses and stop stumbling around pretending I can see without them.

Tomorrow night we’re off with the usual suspects to go see Clutch at The Commodore. I think I’ll just watch the others drink, maybe try to catch a contact buzz if I can. Tequila, anyone? ;-)

Apropos of nothing – I will get around to Playa Mafia: Part 3. Soon-ish. I hope.

Vancouver Gay Pride Weekend '07

G-man, Papillon & Stella – proudest dog in the 'hood!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Okay, this is a bit of a cop-out, cut n' pasting other people's writing, but this joke (emailed to me by the lovely J-poo) made me laugh so hard I almost forgot about my ongoing tiny existential crisis for a minute. Hope it makes you happy too:

How To Come Home Drunk and Still Get a Hot Breakfast

Jack wakes up with a huge hangover the night after a
business function.

Cloudy-headed and in pain, he forces himself to open
his eyes and the first thing he sees is a couple of
aspirins next to a glass of water on the side table.
Next to the aspirin and water stands a single red

He sits up in bed and sees his clothing in front of
him, all clean and pressed.

Jack looks around the room and sees that it is in
perfect order, spotlessly clean. He takes the
aspirins, cringes as he turns on the bathroom light
and notices a Post-it on the mirror: "Honey, breakfast
is on the stove, I left early to go shopping - Love

He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is
hot breakfast and the morning newspaper.

His son is also at the table, eating. Sheepishly, Jack
asks, "Son...what happened last night?"

"Well, you came home after 3 am, drunk and out of your
mind. You broke the coffee table, puked in the hallway
and almost broke your nose when you ran into the
bedroom door."

", why is everything in such perfect order,
so clean, I have a rose and breakfast is on the table
waiting for me?"

His son replies, "Oh, THAT!...Mom dragged you to the
bedroom and when she tried to take your pants off, you

...'Leave me alone, bitch, I'm married!'".

Broken table - $200
Hot breakfast - $5
Red Rose bud - $3
Two aspirins - $0.25

Saying the right thing, at the right time... PRICELESS