Archive for April, 2011

April 26, 2011

what Jack Daniel’s has taught me

I visited Lynchburg, Tenn., to the Jack Daniel’s distillery on Sunday (yes, I went to a liquor-making place on Easter). It was a really nice (and free) thing to do on a sunny weekend day. Sure, these advertising people who market Jack Daniel’s can easily come up with some inspirational sayings, but according to the tour that I took, the above saying, “Every Day We Make It, We’ll Make It The Best We Can,” has been around since they started making the whiskey in the late 1800s. It’s hard to perform to our best each and every single day, but I think this quote reminded me that it’s not about perfection, but the goal is to reach the peak of our ability for that day.

……..and it also reminded me of how much I like whiskey sours…..

April 14, 2011

How to tie a strong knot

When those who’ve never seen “Sex and the City” hear about this television series, they undoubtedly think that it’s all aboutsex, and the city. And, well, there’s definitely a lot of sex going on in the city in those episodes. But what becomes clear as you watch the show (which I believe ended in 2003) is that it’s not just about what the title says. The story is woven around the strong bond of these four friends who lead their own individual  lives, yet find a way to always stay connected with each other. Sure, I want Carrie’s shoes and career or Charlotte’s apartment, but what I end up really wanting every time I watch that show is their sustained close relationship that they have with one another.

They make having relationships (and I mean friendships) look so easy, but people don’t tell you that the prerequisite for being able to have any sort of relationship is that you are able to open yourself up. My own track record for keeping relationships has not been very good. I’ve purposely broken up good friendships for no good reason in the past. Many times I’ve suddenly stopped speaking to someone I had good relations with, and then not contacted him/her for months at a time. I often find a way to push these connections away if I sense even a hint of closeness. I haven’t figured out exactly why it is that I’ve done such a thing repeatedly, but I do know that one of the reasons is that I’m so afraid of being “found out” that I’m much different from the image of myself that I may have projected. I’m so afraid that when the perception of a good friendship is peeled away, I will be exposed with all the flaws. As a result of having torn up so many past friendships, I’m so afraid to even allow for other relationships to form, because I’m scared that I will do that again to someone else that I care about deeply.

Right now, I feel like I’ve met a person with whom I think I could sustain a long friendship. And despite so many of my fears, I am trying hard not pull away like so many other times.  I kind of feel like a tuna can that’s being pried open, but I guess one way to look at it is that in order to enjoy what’s inside, you’ve got to get that can opened.

I’m not looking to be able to recreate that “Sex and the City”-like bond with three other people. I just want to be able to have a relationship with someone for the long term. But what it seems to be coming down to is whether I can let that relationship to happen.


April 12, 2011

it’s too revealing

Today, I was offered a really interesting, amazing opportunity. Amy, a community leader for a health-activist community WEGO Health and also the creator of the blog Una Vita Bella, invited me to be a participant in creating a short video about mental health for WEGO Health’s new venture, WEGO Health TV. Basically, they’re creating a series of conversational web videos led by Health Activists for their online communities, and she wants me to be one of 3-4 panelists who’ll be featured in a video dealing with mental health. I got to see some example videos on their beta site, and the clips were just filled with honest insights from real people, which was refreshing to see. I was told that in addition to spreading word about health issues, the participants will be able to post them on their own sites and build their own brand. With these premises, I thought this would be an exciting chance to try something new. So, I sent Amy a note of acceptance.

While I’m still honored by the invitation, I neglected to think about one little thing before saying yes: the reveal of my true identity (or at least my name). But not just my name, but my identity being tied to this blog/journal. In my blog, I’ve been using the name “Yumers” instead of my real name, and I’ve been careful everywhere else not to tie my actual name to the blog. Most of me would like to link those two things together openly, but there’s a problem that I run into every time I think about doing that. That is, I do not want my parents and sister to know that I write this blog. There’s certainly the issue of my wanting to feel like I can write freely, but a more serious conundrum for me is that my parents do not know about some of the events that happened in my past, like the second suicide attempt—which is something I’ve talked about on the blog. Getting to be in this video would be something that I would love to tell my family, but I won’t be able to tell them about it because that would lead to their knowing that I have a blog that, (gasp), tells the bare truth about myself, instead of about cosmetic products.  I just feel like I’ve reached some sort of a juncture in my own blogosphere where I have to decide whether being my true  self, in name and all, is worth dealing with the fact that my family might find out that I’ve been out in this blogosphere for a while now.

I really, really want to be a part of this new project by WEGO Health and am still committed to being a part of it. But I am torn about having my identity exposed to the public, and quite possibly to my family.

April 10, 2011

Masters-ful plan

I’ve never quite understood the lure of watching a game of golf on television. It’s not like golf fans wear “I heart Phil Mickelson” tees while watching TV, like one might wear for his/her favorite football team. While the intrigue may not be clear, I am one of those people. The Masters was being played this weekend, so for the last four days, I found myself turning the channel to watch this notable tournament.

The show pretty much involves watching men swing their clubs to hit a tiny ball while standing on a sprawling green acres-upon-acres of land. But I guess I’ve come to appreciate what it might take for one to make decisions to hit a ball in a certain distance and direction, and then swing a simple apparatus to try to meet that goal. While hundreds of people are on the green to watch these players and they do have caddies that help them, each man ultimately makes such decision on his own and then take action. It doesn’t always work out the way they planned it (Rory McIlroy probably wasn’t planning for his game to fall apart in the last round), but sometimes things work out far better than one may have imagined it (and such may have been the case for this year’s Masters winner, Charl Schwartzel).

We often hear that phrase, “game of life,” and when we use that saying, that “game” could be anything. One could imagine something like a lottery or slot machines where it really is about luck. But as I sat around watching golf this late  afternoon, I kind of thought about what it would be like if I approached my life right now more like a game of golf. Here’s a little list of what I think I  learned:

  1. Concentrate on one shot at a time. I watched how strategic each player was with every shot that he took. Sure, it’s important to focus on the big goal, but in order to achieve it, I must remember that each small step builds upon another to get there.
  2. Keep track of your score. After every hole, each player pulls out his score card from the back pocket and writes down his score. Knowing what you’ve done in the past can often serve as a guide in planning what to do at the next juncture.
  3. Every day is a new day. Charl Schwartzel, the guy that won the Masters, wasn’t a leader in the first three rounds, but that didn’t stop him from playing a spectacular last round. If he had let his performance in the previous rounds determine how he played on the last day, he may never would’ve won the green jacket.
  4. Keep walking. It doesn’t matter where the ball lands. The players keep walking to it and work to advance it to a next location. I need to remember to that I need to just keep moving if I want to get anything done.

I may have wasted some time this weekend watching a bunch of men in polo shirts, but I think I also gained a little ‘shot’ in the arm of some life lessons.

April 9, 2011

fade to…

My mother left the country last Sunday, and I hadn’t talked to her much since she returned to Japan. So, I called her last night (which would be around 11am on a Sunday, Japan time). We talked about random things, like how Kate Spade is having their Friends and Family sale, or that it’s been raining for the last few days where she lives. But the conversation wasn’t all casual. It’s been a month or so since my grandmother (on my father’s side) moved into a senior-living home. The family had been aware that she may have beginnings of dementia, but wasn’t completely sure. Now it seems  that the dementia has progressed to where she no longer recognizes her own son, my father. She instead believes that he is her brother.

The issue of dementia in seniors is often addressed in the news, but perhaps it’s something that we don’t seriously think about it possibly happening to our own family member, at least I haven’t thought about it beyond what I’ve learned about through the media and class until now. I feel like what I’ve been thinking about, though, seems a tad selfish, very self-absorbed. At the risk of sounding selfish, I guess I’ll just write what came to mind.  This situation made me think about our connection with reality, and what it might feel like to slowly be separated from it. I’m not sure if I could ever cope with such state if I was aware that this was happening to me. It made me kind of realize that having that reality in my hands—even when I might make a comment that makes one think that I want to be separated from it—is incredibly valuable to me. I never thought this much about just how important the value of being aware is, even if that awareness comes with stuff that I’d much rather not deal with. I’ve often thought about what it’s like to be oblivious, and what I’ve come to understand is that I cannot just exist without introspection, no matter how painful it sometimes is.

To know such crucial part of being alive is eroding away from my grandmother’s livelihood is so saddening.  It’s a cruel way to close a chapter of her life.

April 8, 2011

FDA’s ECT panel meeting remarks online has posted many of the remarks by various people who’ve spoken at the FDA neurological devices panel that’s examining the reclassification of ECT devices.

April 7, 2011

enjoy the preview

Two days ago, I had to get out my black fleece jacket from the closet so I could walk across campus without becoming frozen from the cold and the wind. The night before that, a huge thunderstorm/tornado hit around the area, causing the power for my building to be out for almost two days. The weather for this so-called spring has been nothing short of unpredictable, with so many ups and downs. It’s almost mid April, and I’ve yet to pack up my sweaters to be seen again in several months’ time. It’s as though the season that should have passed by now is still lingering, and I can’t quite put closure to it. I feel like that’s the way I’ve been feeling as of late, with letting my mind find  its way into the colder, darker places that exist somewhere in me, and then coming to assume that there’s nothing else beyond such place.

When things you can’t control, like the sky activities, become  a total guessing game,  I start to think that things that are actually partly dependent on my actions are all up for grabs, too, which is so incredibly untrue. I have a set of herbs on my porch that I’m trying to keep alive. While having the sun out is important to them, I am responsible for if/when they get any water. If I don’t nurture my own self in the ways that I can (e.g. taking all the meds all the time, keeping my psychiatrist appointment, or sustaining an active but structured schedule), I shouldn’t expect to be able to withstand days (or weeks, or months) without any sunlight. I recognize that sometimes my moods really are up for grabs, but there’s usually something that I can do that just might help.

While this unpredictable weather may not quite have ended its very long run, it’s brought a little peek into what’s to come. It’s 71 degrees outside today, and sunny, and instead of working on putting away those sweaters, I’ve spread myself out on my porch, just allowing myself to soak up that sunlight, next to the beautiful geranium that I just got last week.  I see on the forecast that there’s a thunderstorm coming ahead in a few days’ time, but what the weather changes for the last few weeks have taught me is that the storms may come, but they always pass. Until then, I will be armed with my red rainboots and umbrella and hope that I can look good in rain :)

April 5, 2011

bleaker street

Everything looks to be a shade of gray as I drive in pouring rain. The only things that show any color at all are the red brake lights that come on intermittently. But everything else blends into the gray sky and the pavement.

I saw my psychiatrist for the first time since November 2010. The office still looked the same, with those cat-legged furniture and a framed picture of her dogs. And the friendly, caring presence of Dr. A hadn’t changed. I admit, I had been thinking about what to say in this appointment, because what I say can change things, like medication.  I know that’s what psychiatrists do in order to treat their patients, but I’m just tired of yet another switcheroo with meds. But I knew what I had to say. I told her the bare truth about how I really had not felt all that great for weeks now and while I’m in no way contemplating suicide, I knew that I didn’t feel my best. She asked me, “So, you think you have some depression?” I told her that I just didn’t want to point my latest moods to depression because it could very well be just stress from having my mother living in my house for three weeks.

But I guess the content of what I said alerted her enough to give me the Beck Depression Inventory. She said that she will send the results over to my ECT psychiatrist as well, which made me nervous. I hate to think that the ECT itself isn’t working, and that Dr. F might view my result as evidence of that. While my mind wished that I felt better than I did, my pencil marks on that sheet couldn’t lie.

Dr. A added Deplin to my smorgasbord of pills (it’s really not that bad). Deplin isn’t really a psychotropic med; it’s just folic acid. But it’s another thing to take. Before I left, she handed me five sheets of prescriptions. I acted okay as I headed to the door, but as soon as I started walking to the car, I felt the tears starting to well up and a bit of anger stirred. Once again, I thought, I can’t separate myself from the chains of psychiatric medicine. I was angry at myself for letting my moods get this far down enough to where a doctor thinks I need to be on another drug. It felt like a never ending trap, and I’m totally stuck in it. During my appointment, Dr. A did ask me if I realized that my treatment has to be done for the long-term. I nodded, but on the inside, my acknowledging that reality felt like I just agreed to be tied up in an inescapable knot, one that I can try to unravel, but I can never be free.

April 3, 2011

mental disorder + graphic design

My friend Jeremy told me about a British designer Patrick Smith who’s created posters that bring minimalist design and mental health awareness together. See all of them here.

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