Depression as a hole

By , February 15, 2010 7:08 pm

I just got back from my therapist, who gave me an analogy for depression that I kind of like.

Depression is a hole.

When you start digging a hole, you can see into the distance. You can see the trees and plants around you, the horizon.

But as you get deeper, you can see less and less. At first, maybe you lose a bit of the horizon. Then, some of the tree-trunks; you can only see the tops of the trees.

The deeper you dig, the more your vision is limited. Until, at last, all you can see is the hole surrounding you, and the sky above you. And you’re not quite sure how to get out.

You might be able to intellectually imagine what is outside of the hole. People can tell you what is outside of the hole. But you can’t actually see it for yourself.

So how do you get out?

Time is often a good help, said my therapist, but antidepressants (like the ones I’m now just over a week into) can help, too. And slowly, the things you weren’t able to see will come back into your field of vision.

Until (hopefully) you’re completely out of the hole.

Escaping into books

By , February 11, 2010 9:17 pm

I’ve been reading a lot this past week, trying to find a way to enjoy myself without simply sitting in front of a TV. To that end, I’ve been surrounding myself with good ‘escapism’ books, and figured I’d share.

Good Omens was the first thing I read this past week, It’s a hilarious book about the appocalypse, co-written by Neil Gaiman (of Sandman fame) and Terry Pratchett (of Discworld fame). It really successfully combines Gaiman’s skill at exploring and probing mythic tales with Pratchett’s irreverent humor.

I’m now reading the first book of The Mysterious Benedict Society series. It’s a fun young adult novel about a group of orphans who are recruited by the mysterious Mr. Benedict to help save the world from Ledroptha Curtain. Again, a fun book to read, and one where I know that everything will turn out alright regardless of the characters’ current predicament.

When I’m finish with Benedict, I think I’m going to reread some Heinlein, starting with Time Enough For Love. I fully admit Heinlein swings back and forth between being an advocate of gender equality and a shameless misogynist, but I still really enjoy his books; they take me back to being a teenager, but in a satisfying way somehow.

After that? I’m not sure. I may reread the Clan of the Cave Bear series. Without a doubt, a ridiculous and highly romanticized series, but another set of books I think I’ll enjoy without having to think too much.

How about y’all? What books must I read? What are some of your favorite books, escapist or otherwise?

Escaping an angry photograph

By , February 10, 2010 12:53 am

Something has been bouncing around in my head. From Picture Frames, a post from Cedar’s blog Taking Up Too Much Space, written in response to my show Trans Form :

What I realized, when I heard [in Trans Form] about the photo albums, and the pictures on the walls of her [Rebecca's] parents’ house, was that these were the memorabilia of an occupation, held onto and commemorated by its collaborators (witting or unwitting). Yes they represent a historical “truth,” a “past” one does not want to “deny”–but so do guns and chains and whips and bombs, and you don’t see them in the family photographs. Well, not if you were on the receiving end, anyway.

That concept, viewing photos or keepsakes of my past as “the memorabilia of an occupation,” finally clicked with me today.

This past weekend, my dad and I were talking about my depression. I was saying that I regretted not transitioning earlier, and he was saying he was sorry for not doing something when I was younger. Seeing something, noticing my unhappiness and its cause. And he said that, with the more tangible problems my older siblings had, it was easy to see me – with good grades, friends, a voracious apatite for books, no small skill at playing piano – as the ‘normal’ child. The child who didn’t need ‘fixing.’

And I realized, as Cedar indicated, that where we find ourselves today is not simply a result of the “truth” of history. It’s a result of how that history is viewed.

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Family can surprise you

By , February 9, 2010 11:47 am

I just got off the phone with my dad. Both of my parents have been calling me pretty much every day, since last Wednesday when I told them how difficult things were for me right now. I’ve been getting a bit tired of having the same conversation over and over:

Mom or dad: How’re you feeling?

Me: The same.

Dad or mom: Are you feeling any better?

Me: No, not really.

(Yes, I know they mean well and they’re asking because they love me.)

I was expecting a repeat of this and, indeed, the conversation did start that way. But then my dad mentioned how a J – a friend of my dad’s and a reporter in Chicago – had been telling my dad about Christina Kahrl. Christina is a trans sports writer in Chicago, and I met her at a Broadway Youth Center event a few months ago. Apparently, J was saying he’d be happy to set up some sort of meeting for me with Christina; my dad was calling to ask me about this and see if I might want to talk with someone who has “been there.”

It seems like a little thing, particularly in contrast to my dad’s continued difficulty of calling me Rebecca, but I was really surprised and touched by the offer.

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Antidepressants and Chakras

By , February 6, 2010 10:47 pm

Friday afternoon, I went to my doctor to talk about my hormone levels and the possibility of antidepressants.

I like my doctor, a lot. I didn’t have to jump through hoops to get my hormones (only in retrospect do I realize how rare that is), he has a good sense of humor, and he remembers the important goings-on in my life, even with months separating visits. I will say he is consistently running late, something that drives me up a wall. I operate on ‘stage manager time': early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable. (This is why I show up fifteen minutes early to most places in my life…) The flip-side of his timeliness, though, is that he spends a lot of time with his patients; I don’t like sitting around in his waiting room, but I very much feel taken care of while seeing him.

At my appointment on Friday, I explained how I’d been feeling, i.e. not too hot. We talked about what’s been going on in my life, and what things have been positive or negative. He was very observant in that most actors and artists have some sort of post-show blues, but I described how this felt really different than other post-show blues I’ve experienced; that this was about feeling an utter lack of excitement about anything, not simply being sad a show was done.

He said that made sense, and gave me a 2-week trial of Lexapro. Then he asked if I would be comfortable with having my Chakras opened.

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Taking time is hard to do

By , February 5, 2010 12:57 pm

I’m on my second day off, and feeling overwhelmed by the time I have. I’m also trying really hard not to think about this weekend and next week, which would have been filled with tech for my high-schoolers’ show, but now I’m not doing. That still hurts a lot, even if I think it’s the right decision.

Yesterday was nice, even if taking a mental health day felt really weird and indulgent. (I’m not allowed to think it’s indulgent, but that’s a battle in and of itself.) My mom and I went to lunch, and our conversation drifted back and for from mundane things (she and some of her girl friends are having a slumber party tonight, which I find adorable) to more serious topics (how I’m doing, how my brother is doing, and so on). We then walked back from the restaurant to my apartment, window shopping and (inevitably) stopping in the shoe store to ‘look.’

As much as I like Alamo Shoes, one of the employees there always recognizes me and I can’t decide if he’s being flirty or not. I don’t know how to react to flirty, so I get a little uncomfortable. (Particularly when I’m with my mom, and he asks where I got my jeans so he can get a pair.) Maybe I’m being oversensitive – probably am – I just don’t have any socialization patterns stored up for reacting or interacting in that situation…

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Life gets in the way

By , February 3, 2010 7:06 pm

Just got back from my therapist where, through many tears, I was able to talk about feeling depressed, miserable, not wanting to eat, and thinking about hurting myself.

Hard. Session.

She gave me a mini to-do list, which I’m working my way through. I called my mom to talk to her, and we both cried a bit. I don’t know that I’m going to go up and stay with her tonight, but maybe tomorrow or this weekend. Play with the cats a bit. I’m putting off calling my dad, but need to do that next.

I also let the lead teacher of the high school class I’m working with know I couldn’t come to tech this weekend and next week. Which really sucks. More than anything else, I feel bad about dropping that commitment.

I also called my doctor to schedule an appointment and get my hormone levels checked, as well as get a prescription for an antidepressant.

The last few items on my short-term list (trying not to think long-term at the moment) are calling my boss and saying I won’t be in the rest of the week, putting an auto-reply up on my work email, and talking to my roommates. And calling my dad.

Working on breathing. I’m told that’s a good thing. And, I think, after having dinner I may go downstairs and play with my landlords’ dogs. That’s always good therapy.

Edit: Calling my boss was almost worth it, just to hear the sudden change in his voice when I started crying at him. I really didn’t mean to, and was hoping to make it through the conversation without crying, but by god it garnered a sympathetic reaction.

Killing Voldemort

By , February 2, 2010 1:33 am

Once upon a time, I wrote about how my old name may or may not be like He Who Shall Not Be Named. I had said to a friend, jokingly, “You can say my old [male] name! It’s not like it’s Voldemort.”

I’ve been thinking about that idea since then, and of the power of names. And I realized that I don’t want people saying my old name. A coworker of mine, who met me after I was living full-time as Rebecca, knows my old name because she gets the office mail and random catalogs and things occasionally arrive in my old name. I was telling a story to a friend that needed to use my old name, and felt uncomfortable when I got to that point in the story.

I’m starting to feel a bit claustrophobic in my current job, where I’ve been since before I transitioned. And in a building that I’ve been coming to for classes and to teach and work since I was nine. In the city where I grew up. Surrounded by people who knew me before I transitioned.

I also don’t want to totally cut myself off from pre-transition life, from the friends and family and memories. But I’m floundering right now, having a hard time keeping my head above water, and I’m wondering how much my surroundings have to do with it.

And I Must Scream

By , February 1, 2010 10:32 pm

Trigger warning for discussion of eating disorders, self-injury, and suicide.

(Post title comes from this story. It is not a happy story. You’ve been warned.)

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post titled If it quacks like a duck…

…how would I respond if someone said to me, “I have this friend whose been really stressed lately. In fact, a few times in the last month or so she’s forgotten to eat and has made herself sick as a result – she gets really nauseous and dizzy, and one time was out of commission for over 12 hours. Do you think she’s developing an eating disorder?”I’d probably say yes. Not a conscious one – she isn’t chosing not to eat to lose weight, or as an intentional defense mechanism – but yeah, probably.

Since then, I’ve been pretty good at staying on a healthy eating schedule. I’m still not eating healthier (no huge shift to greens like I promised my doctor…) but I am eating, even when I’ve been really stressed.

Well, I’ve been really stressed the past week, and realized two things that are really scaring me. First, I’ve been consciously tempted to not eat as a way to feel like I’m in some control over something in my life. Second, I’ve been thinking about cutting, to have some external focus for pain instead of all the internal ones.

Continue reading 'And I Must Scream'»

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