Breathe Everyday

I volunteered at a National Alliance for Mental Illness state conference this morning. I greeted people and directed them towards registration until it slowed down. Then I listened to the keynote speaker. He wrote the course I took on disclosing mental illness. I would have liked to have talked to him but I didn’t get a chance.

They had a quiet room with coloring, painting, chairs, information. I went there and hung out. I answered some questions but mostly relaxed. Lunch was okay.

In the afternoon I went to a laughter yoga meeting, but I had to pee and I didn’t want to laugh with a full bladder, so I left. I should have gone back, though. Everyone came out saying it was fun.

Then I went to a schizophrenia Q&A. I asked the dr if it was for everyone. I didn’t want to be in a caregiver meeting. It was for anyone. He started talking a little about schizophrenia before opening up for questions. He said we could write them down.

I turned one in but he never got to it. I had asked that since I have only had rare psychotic symptoms since 2006, when can I breathe and not worry about relapsing. I went up to him afterwards and he said he read it. He said that there is no answer. To enjoy today. “Breathe everyday”

Mood Report: Depressed

I want to say something good, even thought provoking.

The truth is that for a couple months I felt pretty good. A functioning college student. Focused, determined, ready to take on the world. My only issue was how I was rather plagued with anxiety and took benzos nearly daily (well, I still take klonopin daily, it really helps).

And then it started happening. At night time I’d slowly descend into feeling depressed. But it didn’t last long because I’d go to sleep. Well it is happening earlier and earlier.

Today I flat out woke up depressed. I don’t have any inspirational thing to say. I feel more like I’m reporting in.

I guess this is where therapy skills come into handy. I found the most useful way to handle most things- depression, wanting to self harm, etc.- is by distracting yourself. Keeping your mind occupied doesn’t give time to focus on the depression. So I’m going to go play some video games.

I will admit, that maybe I am depressed partially for a real reason. I disappointed myself this summer. I was going to volunteer, and immediately went to the meeting and received the paperwork and turned in my references. But then I lagged, I didn’t finish the paperwork and call in for my training. I didn’t do anything, I finally got my TB test (required) done so that’s a bonus. I just got distracted for a month, by someone who was unhealthy for me and took up so much of my time. I regret not getting the hours in but also because it was going to be a wonderful way to spend my time, actually helping people. The best part was that there was no minimum hours, no set hours, nothing. You come and go when you please. It is the best volunteer option you can have as a college student. And I haven’t even started. Why? Why??? You know, after I finish this, I am going to finish that paperwork. And I will call that phone number even if its not business hours maybe she will still pick up. I am going to do this.

But the other reason, a lesser one, is that I didn’t start exercising. I told myself I would, but getting sick at the very beginning of summer (excuses) didn’t help. I kept pushing it off, “well I’m still recovering from my sinus infection!” Well that ended over a month ago, what’s stopping me now? Nothing.

I’ve also been trying to gain weight. I never got it back from my manic episode over winter. I finally gained 3 pounds (which is a lot for me). But now I am worried because I just bought a swimsuit that is rather attractive but won’t fit if I gain weight. So now if I gain weight, which I need to do, I just lost money.

Ah, anyway, I am going to grab that volunteer paperwork, RIGHT NOW, and go fill it out.

I know that making progress towards volunteering will cheer me up. Even if I regret immensely not starting this sooner. At least my fall quarter has two online classes, so I have ample time to spend volunteering.

Also, note to self: Stop drinking alcohol. It doesn’t make the depression better, at all.


And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, Went home and put a bullet through his head.

I learned just yesterday that one of my college housemates died last year. I remember “Richard” as an outgoing young anthropology major, with plenty of friends, and interesting stories of life among the Mbuti pygmies. A mutual friend and fellow housemate told me yesterday that he had died.

I Googled his name (with appropriate accompanying words to distinguish him from all the other men with the same name), and found his obituary, and some other things that people had written, before and after his death. There I found hints at what looked like an upper middle class childhood, note duly made of Richard’s Stanford degree, two books that he had written (I’m impressed, as I have written zero books, unless you count the novel in a drawer and the screenplay in a drawer), and stories of his woodsman skills and the meals he cooked for his friends.

I could see, perhaps, a few things lacking: the obituary listed no spouse or lover or children to mourn him, only parents and siblings and nephews and nieces. And one brother had died before him (ten years before him, of a heart attack, I found in another obituary helpfully supplied by Google). An article from a couple of years ago said that his small business was struggling a bit.

But nothing in these bits and pieces, or in my memories, prepared me for the closing paragraph of the warmest blog post of memories.

One summer day last year, Richard hung himself.


Where have I been, what have I seen?

I realized I haven’t blogged in about a month. Where have I been?

I discovered an app called periscope. It lets you live stream and talk and others can type and chat. The few people who have came to my “scopes” are pretty shy, so I feel like I am talking to myself, but it is fun.

In the news:

There was a recent study on marijuana use and health

Teen marijuana use not linked to later depression, lung cancer, other health problems, study finds

Study contradicts some prior marijuana research

“Chronic marijuana use by teenage boys does not appear to be linked to later physical or mental health issues such as depression, psychotic symptoms or asthma, according to a new study.”

One of the researchers stated:

“We wanted to help inform the debate about legalization of marijuana, but it’s a very complicated issue and one study should not be taken in isolation,” Bechtold said.

New Project: (has twitter and facebook pages) is collecting videos of people’s stories with mental illness.. They can be about 3-5 minutes

Review: An Angel at My Table

Janet Frame endured eight years as a mental patient before she went on to become the poet laureate of New Zealand. She was misdiagnosed. While she was incarcerated she underwent electro-convulsive therapy without anesthesia and was lined up for a lobotomy until her doctor learned that she had won a prestigious literary prize and took her off the list. This movie is the story of three periods in her life. Her time in a mental hospital is the second.

I would guess that social anxiety and, perhaps, depression were the demons that afflicted Frame. She would hide in corners. She failed at her work as a teacher. When two of her sisters died, she crashed into a frozen despair.

If Angel at My Table is accurate, Frame was most certainly not schizophrenic. An early scene in the second part of the film shows her riding to the hospital in a car with two women who are severely impaired by their illnesses. She stands out as unafflicted by whatever is troubling her fellow passengers. Things were done to her while she was in the hospital just because they were the latest treatment. Her mother desperately signed the papers for the lobotomy: if Frame had been trapped in a mindless system, we would have lost a great author. Fortunately, a doctor noticed in time and helped her win her release.

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