Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: mental health

Sickness, Hypothyroidism, and Depression, Oh My!

constant criticism running through my brain.
Weighted by the world.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling depressed. I have no idea why as there is no logical reason I should be any more depressed right now than I was, say, a month ago, but depression isn’t logical. I know that having suffered from it for most of my life, but it’s still frustrating to feel it descend upon me and not be able to do anything about it. It’s also weird to actually realize it’s happening as it happens because I used to just live in it before. It was like a warm coat that suffocated me as it clung to my every curve. I didn’t know what it felt like to be depressed because I never felt anything else. Now that I’ve gone several years without being chronically and debilitatingly depressed, I know what it feels like to be depressed.

You know how it feels? It sucks. It drains all the color from the world, leaving it a drab gray. It doesn’t help that the environment around me in the physical world right now is also a drab gray, so it’s matching my interior mood. The grass is brown, and the snow has melted. This is the shit time of winter, which is my favorite season by far. I love the cold and the snow and the crisp bright air. But, I hate it when it starts warming up and everything is dead. All the bugs are flying in the air, and it’s easy to get sick during this time.

I feel as if I’m going through the motions, even with things I enjoy. I’m tired all the time, no matter how much or how little I sleep. This is how I used to feel all the time, and I don’t understand how I dealt with it at all. I hate feeling like this, and it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. I remembered days when I had to force myself to brush my teeth, and that was the only thing I did all day long. I hated myself and my life, and I wanted nothing more than to not exist. I didn’t want to die, per se, because I was convinced that whatever existed after death was worse than life itself. However, everything in my being was telling me that life was a chore and that I shouldn’t be alive.

I’m feeling whispers of the same sentiment now as well. Why am I alive? I don’t want to be alive. I don’t want to die, but I can’t be stuffed to actually care about being alive. I have good things happening in my life and in my friends’ lives, and I know intellectually that I have a lot to be thankful for, but I. Just. Can’t. Care. I try to talk myself out of it, but to no avail. To someone who’s never suffered depression–are there any people who haven’t any longer?–it’s incomprehensible that someone can’t just shake themselves out of a bad mood. That’s why there are so many annoying pieces about Top Ten Ways to Beat Depression! and such shit.
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Forest, Trees, and Mental Health

silent tranquility.
Just breathe.

I became a political junkie in 2008 because I was excited by having a black candidate for president and a female candidate for president (both Dems). It’s not the most noble of reasons, but I don’t think it’s a bad selfish reason. I’ve been a Democrat since I’ve been able to vote*, but it was more de facto than with any enthusiasm.  I knew the Republicans didn’t have anything to offer me, and what’s more, they actively didn’t want me in their party. I chose the Dems by default because at least nominally, they gave lip service to diversity and caring about the underdog. Mind you, I knew it was mostly cosmetic and superficial, but it was better than being told I was an abomination on a daily basis.

In other words, I wasn’t enthusiastic about being a Democrat, but I knew it was the better of the two unappealing options. My first vote for president was for Nader in 1996 (NOT 2000), and it was a protest vote. Even then, I didn’t like the fact that we had two parties, and I really didn’t like Bill Clinton for several reasons. So, I waited until I was sure he’d won Minnesota before voting for Nader. My next presidential candidates were Al Gore and John Kerry, two of the most boring, non-charismatic candidates to win the primary. Listening to them speak was painfully dull, but I knew I wasn’t voting for the Republican candidate (W. both times), so I didn’t pay any attention as I voted straight D. Both Gore and Kerry were good men, but they were very much quintessential politicians who didn’t excite me at all.

Side note: I understand why people want to vote third party. As I noted, my first presidential vote was for a third party candidate. I do think there are problems that come with being long-term establishment politicians. Most politicians who have been in their positions for decades have been changed by the job, rather than them changing the job, even if that was their intent to begin with. I remember how idealistic Paul Wellstone was when he was first elected. He vowed he would only serve for two terms because he had the same reservations about lifelong politicians. Near the end of his second term, however, he changed his mind and said he was running again because he was still needed. Now, I don’t necessarily disagree with his change of mind because he did a lot of good for Minnesotans** and has been one of our most progressive congresspeople, I just shook my head at the time because it’s easy to see how seductive a life in politics can be–even for someone as idealistic as Wellstone. Again, he did it for lofty reasons, but there was still a sense of ego that only he could do the work. Regardless, I would have voted from him again in a heartbeat if he hadn’t died in a tragic plane crash.  He was a politician whom I believed was doing what he truly thought was best, even when I disagreed with him.

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Taiji Demystified, But Not Defanged

strike a pose!
Not kung-fu fighting.

I was at the bank the other day to straighten out a snafu. As the banker and I waited for the person he was calling to help us, the banker began chitchatting with me. He asked me what I did in my spare time, and I told him I practiced tai chi. He got a strange look on his face, a mixture of bemusement, bewilderment, and intrigue, and I waited to hear what he had to say to my proclamation. After a few seconds, he said, “You mean, the martial art? Like karate?” and did the breaking boards with his hands movements (the stereotypical karate chop) that you see in corny martial arts movies. I could have said, “No, tai chi is an internal martial arts style, and we have no interest in breaking boards with our hands.” I could have said, “Tai chi is good for your mental health as well as your physical health.” I could have said, “Tai chi is excellent for meditation and attaining a peaceful attitude.” I could have said any one of those things, but I didn’t. It’s difficult to adequately explain what it is in five minutes or less. So, I simply nodded and said, “Yes, it’s like that.” He asked what rank I was, and I said we didn’t have ranks or belts. I’ll give him credit. He persisted. He asked if I was an expert or a beginner. I said I was somewhere in between. Then, because I was highly amused by the conversation, I added that I was studying the Sword Form and the Sabre Form. I emphasized that weapons were my thing, and I snickered to myself at the look in the banker’s eyes.

After I left the bank, I thought more about the conversation. I want to emphasize that the banker did an excellent job in helping me with my problem. He was friendly, yet professional, and I’m not upset at his ignorance. I appreciate that he showed an interest when I mentioned taiji, even if it was beyond his ken. However, it underscored how esoteric taiji is to people who don’t practice it. I know, that’s not very insightful because anyone who has a niche hobby knows that people who don’t share the interest won’t know the ins and outs of the hobby. It’s too easy to forget that when you’re surrounded by other practitioners. I go to taiji classes three times a week and have been studying it for eight or nine years, so it’s as natural to me as breathing. The interaction with my banker reminded me that I’m an ambassador for taiji, which is pretty sad as I was the worst student ever for the longest time. One of the reason I started going to class three times a week was so that I’d actually practice on those three days. I didn’t practice at all outside of those classes for more years than I care to admit. I’ve changed that recently, but it’s still a fairly new habit. It’s also not what this post is about.

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