Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When Help Isn't Helpful

Last night, I called a number I've contacted many times before: Crisis Services.  For those of you in a healthy place mentally, Crisis Services is a number that you can call when you need someone to talk to and you don't feel like you can talk to anyone else.  Basically, if you're feeling depressed, suicidal, insanely stressed, overwhelmed, confused, and so on, you can call them and talk to a professional counsellor.  (Note: You don't have to be feeling all of these things at once.)

Every time I've called in, I've spoken to a kind and understanding counsellor who listened to what I had to say and took me seriously.  When I called last night, I was surprised, first of all, to talk to a man.  I wasn't comfortable with that, but I had a question.  (It didn't occur to me to ask if I could speak with a woman instead, though I don't even know if that's an option.)  I posed my question ("How do you go about getting 'mental health leave' from work?") and he asked me, "Do you have a mental illness?"  I told him that yes, I did, and proceeded to explain why I was looking into mental health leave (stress, exhaustion, lack of sleep -- though not for a lack of trying, suicidal thoughts, self-harming desires, etc.).  His response?  "Well, you might be depressed."  What?  I just told you that I am!

I was trying not to jump to conclusions, but I was getting really frustrated.  I told him, "I am depressed.  I've been diagnosed."  He sounded surprised when he next asked, "You have?  What's your diagnosis?"  I told him both of my diagnoses and expected to be directed to a website or given a phone number to call for more information about mental health leave.  Instead, he told me to ask my doctor to try putting me on medication.  When I informed him that I've been on medication for five years, he told me to "ask for more."

It was like being 13 again and repeatedly telling my doctor that my chronic stomach aches were not a physical illness, but instead a psychological symptom of something else.  Even then, I knew something wasn't right.  However, no one believed me.  And no one ever did until I was 17.  Being 24 and diagnosed, I thought I'd left the years of justifying and qualifying behind me.

Receiving help for a mental health issue should not be a fight.  Children and teenagers should not be dismissed when they express the opinion that something is wrong and it might be psychological.  Maybe no one remembers being 11 or 13, but at that age, people are self-aware.  They can tell when something doesn't feel right, and as adults, we should trust their instincts regarding their own mental health, particularly when they ask for help.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sober

Usually, I try to keep the depression talk out of my blog (and look how well I've done, right?), but I'm having a bit of a tough time right now and somehow it's easier to admit that to the internet at large as opposed to one person at a time.

I've been somewhat self-destructive lately and it's going about as well as you would think. I was spending all of my time out, seeing people, spending time with less-than-favourable individuals, and partaking in more than enough alcohol to last 6 months, let alone 6 weeks. It all ended when, last Saturday, I was at a friend's house-warming party and got fall-down, black-out drunk by 10:30 at night. I don't remember most of what happened, but I remember enough to be ashamed.

The hardest part now is that no one believes me when I say I'm going to stay sober. Everyone who hears me say that I've quit drinking laughs and greets the news with a patronizing, "Sure you are." It's a lot more difficult to stay away from something when no one believes you can. The night after the party, a guy I met there (we spoke for ten minutes -- that I remember -- and nothing happened) added me to Facebook. I told him on there that I was never going to drink again. Considering Saturday's performance, I can see why he wouldn't believe me, but after messaging me on Facebook for a week and getting the same story every time (personal prohibition), you'd think it would sink in. I got a message from him tonight asking if I wanted to party tomorrow night.

The sad thing is, my self-destructive side is all in. The smarter, less alcoholic part did the right thing and turned him down. I'm determined to remain sober and I'm seeing someone. It may not be going as quickly as I would prefer, but I'm not going to go off with some other guy. I hate how much I want to go back to acting like a dumbass.

Maybe posting this online, on my public blog, is a bad idea, but it never gets any easier to ask your friends or family for help when you need it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

To Be a Bear

It would seem that bear mace is now a thing in our community. On the 29th of October, someone (or a group of someones) was crashing random parties and bear macing everyone.

Last night, while I was in the States and my parents were enjoying what they thought was a quiet evening, there was a very loud and frantic banging at the door. My mom answered and found a young man writhing in agony after being bear-maced. Being a nurse and able to help him, she let him in. While he was rolling on the floor and shrieking, she managed to ask his name. "It's me!" he shouted. "Blonde John!" (Not his real name). Here, my parents realized that this was not some random kid, but an old friend of my brother's.

In an effort to decrease Blonde John's discomfort, my mom sent him into the basement to use the downstairs shower, at which point she called the police. Before getting into the shower, Blonde John begged my dad to go to the churchyard and move his truck. The churchyard is only three houses down, so my dad agreed and set out. On the ground next to the truck, he found what appeared to be an iPod and a small baggie, which he threw onto the passenger seat. When he opened the driver's side door, the bear mace was still so strong that he couldn't get within 3 feet of the interior. Obviously, he didn't move it; he just locked the doors and came back home.

Blonde John spent an hour and a half in the shower, trying to assuage the fiery torture. While he was still in there, his phone began ringing incessantly. When my mom checked who was calling, she discovered another familiar name: Bacon (another fake name -- not hippy parents), my brother's old best friend. I miss that kid. He was practically another younger brother, but some very bad things happened to his family and he moved across town and made new friends. My mom called him and told him not to call Blonde John for a while.

When the police questioned my parents, they asked my father if he had touched anything. He mentioned the bag and the iPod and they politely informed him that it was not an mp3 player. It was a scale, and the baggie was filled with marijuana. As was the truck. They found at least 10 more baggies. Thankfully, Blonde John is only going to receive a fine, though I suppose I shouldn't say that that's good.

So, TL;DR, apparently when drug deals go wrong in the churchyard, the answer is bear mace. In the churchyard. I laughed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Taco Bell Showdown

My latest Friday tradition involves crossing the bridge into the States, meeting up with the guys at Dot Games, and playing Magic the Gathering until 2:00 a.m., at which point we go to Taco Bell to watch the drunks dance. And of course, I mean attempt to beat the shit out of each other.

Lately, the drunken brawls have been few and fairly lacklustre, but last Friday, we got a real show. One particular drunkie (whom I shall name Impotent Rage, or IR), seemed determined to incite some violence. He and his assumed girlfriend were outside, where he began yelling at any male within tackling distance. Drunk girlfriend (DGF) continually attempted to hold IR back, usually resulting in her falling over whenever he stepped aside. It was at this point that IR seemingly decided that the reason he wasn't fighting was that he was far too clothed and removed his shirt. It was about 5 Celsius and you could tell.

When IR was still not a-swing-and-a-missing with another Drunkie Brewster, he decided that the best solution to this was to retrieve the crowbar from the back of his truck. Sadly (or happily, for the people parked at T-Bell), the night did not culminate in the smashing of a fancy car. Or any car. Once the gloves (and shirts) were off and the crowbar came out, the sober (or less drunk) onlookers managed to wrangle IR into a car (a feat which had thus far only resulted in him exiting a car multiple times). He and DGF disappeared in a haze of alcohol-induced insanity, and possibly a Corolla.

By 3:30 a.m., it was time for Jukebox (an alias, for the record -- sorry, puns are entertaining) and I to disappear as well. On our way to the bridge and my home country, we saw something in the road. Something with a shine to it. As we'd passed the object, we took a side road and made our way back. The closer we got, the more certain we became of the nature of the object. Jukebox parked and I got out, running into the empty road and gingerly picking it up from the ground. We took it with us, laughing at the random nature of our discovery, and smuggled it into Canada with us. Those border patrol officers never knew what didn't hit them. Triumphantly, Jukebox dropped me off, though not before thoroughly photographing the item. Do you want to know what we found? Stay tuned tomorrow for photos and the big reveal!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Jealousy

My sister, the Dapper Dame, has recently relocated to Alberta and I am jealous. Of course, I'm only jealous of her Thanksgiving weekend. Mine was certainly nowhere near as exciting, but it was fun in its own right.

It started off with a glorious night of Magic the Gathering with my charismatic American buddies that lasted far later than expected (but totally worth it!), then transformed into a Saturday sleepover/shopping spree with one of my nearest and dearest, June (not her real name). Most of Saturday is a blur as I was massively sleep deprived from Friday's antics, but I do remember purchasing X-Men: First Class and revelling in its magnificence once more. Also purchased: Tangled on bluray, Supertroopers on DVD. Tomorrow: House season 6, Bones season 6. I am going to be so busy.

As you may have guessed, Saturday's was also a sleepless night, so on Sunday, I had the intention of going home and sleeping. I managed that for a few hours before my brother's ex-girlfriend, current friend, Mandy (also not her name) and her brother Bob came over to whisk me away to Hiawatha (a local park/hiking area). Of course, all I knew about this outing was that they wanted someone to help them film something. I'm not exactly a practised cinematographer, and I had no idea what the "something" they intended to film was going to be.

After we spent about an hour filming the opening scene at my place, we took to the road and wound our way through the city. At this point, I still wasn't clear on what was happening (and even after almost finishing the project, I'm still not sure I get it). I figured that since autumn is a busy place for Hiawatha, there would be enough witnesses to point the finger at Mandy and Bob should I disappear. Clearly, I made it out alive, and with some pretty good photos. Though my opinion on their quality is biased.


I was intrigued by this root. Of course, from the other side it looked like the tree's testicle.


I'm not clear on this ring's function, but it looked pretty cool.


Mandy getting into her "costume". Seriously, no idea.


Bob being way to backlit.


The "dam". I put it in quotes 'cause it was my first visit to it.


For more photos from the trip, hit up my deviantART account. Yes, I'm promoting myself.

The whole outing was only supposed to last one or two hours. By 6:30pm, we'd been out for 4 and a half hours. Thankfully, I was well coated in sunscreen. Without it, I wouldn't survive 20 minutes. But our mission was ended and they dropped me back off at home where I proceeded to sleep. For several hours.

Today was dedicated to cute movies (Tangled, Anastasia) and classy TV shows (House, Bones). Sadly, tomorrow is work day, but at least I only have four of those this week!

The last few weekends have been incredible. Getting back into photography and writing (and partying) has been so much fun and very inspiring. I'll tell you about another fantastic outing soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Performance Review

Last night, I was lucky enough to see a hilariously fantastic staging of the play Get Smart based on the 1960s TV show. It's being put on by Stage 1, a theatre company here in Sault Ste. Marie. I work with the director, Richard (or Joe at the theatre), and know a few of the actors and crew members. I definitely had to see it, and I am so glad I did. I'm going again to the final show. It's Saturday night and it will be awesome.

Despite having a minimal budget, the production is in no way low-rent. The available space is used very efficiently, and the lighting is designed perfectly to work with it. Even better, the actors clearly know the stage well, making them experts at navigating it. With the effortless blocking, the dialogue flows easily. The chemistry between the actors is genial, creating a friendly and fun atmosphere.

One incident that attests to the professionalism of the actors occurred midway through the show. A poster advertising an important location in the show was affixed to one of the "hotel room" walls; however, it wasn't affixed very effectively since it fell after a few minutes. The actors responded spectacularly, never once breaking character or acknowledging the poster as a mistake. They simply rehung it as if it were an errant decoration in their own home or office. Not long afterward, the poster fell again. And again. And again. That was an incredibly enjoyable part of the show, though, because they managed to take a potential distraction and turn it into a comedic bit.

At the intermission, I had the opportunity to talk to Richard. He's been stressing over his play for weeks and has been putting in incredible amounts of work. He seemed nervous because he assured me that the second act was better. That surprised me, seeing as I was enthralled with the first act already.

One of the best attributes of the cast was that age was irrelevant. The cast was young, but they all lived up to their roles. I didn't spend any time guessing real ages or trying to figure out who was older or younger. I was just watching and enjoying the play.

That's another thing that Get Smart did; it reminded me that I love seeing plays. I often forget how much I enjoy them, but whenever I see a truly well-done and entertaining play, it rekindles my passion for theatre. Don't let Get Smart pass you by. There are three more shows: tonight, Friday night, and Saturday night, all at 8:00 p.m. If you go on Saturday, I'll see you there!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hoo Boy

I promise that this is not going to become a ghost-blog. I have been insanely busy with work, but I'm going to start dedicating more time here.

As far as personal news goes, WOW. A lot has happened. The most recent occurrence was my sister smashing her face into a rock out at Bathtub Island. It's a neat rock formation just off a beach. My sister, being the graceful pixie that she is, slipped on the wet rocks, smashed a golf ball sized lump into her head, and turned the water a lovely shade of crimson. She's okay, otherwise I wouldn't be blogging this, but she did have to be picked up. She couldn't exactly drive with blood gushing from a head injury. So, my mom, my friend, and I, all drove out to meet my cousins and aunt who were driving her and her vehicle. We arrived at Agawa Indian Crafts, the agreed upon meeting place, and searched out my slightly worse-for-wear sister. That was when I started laughing. At the maxi-pad stuck to her head. Those things sure are absorbent.

My mom took Katie back to town to the hospital, and Pat, my friend, and I drove Katie's car back. Long story short, eventful day.