Quick happy notes.

We went out to dinner tonight, and there was lovely happy fluffy conversation, ranging from Star Trek Online to the lives of various actors and former actors to BraveStarr (does anyone else remember that? I mean, without Googling?), and along the meandering way Mark Ruffalo came up.

He did not come up for long, but he is on my mind. Specifically his role as the Hulk.

(Okay, I hate having to do this, but: I am not speaking for all crazies. I am, in fact, speaking for myself, as a very lucky crazy, in terms of my privilege and support system.)

I love Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner.

I love the way he’s so careful. I love the way he measures his speech. I love the way you can see him holding his own hands, so cautious; I love the way that when he’s dealing with people who know about and might want to use the Hulk his speech and body language, over and over, codes as a human being who has learned to second-guess himself, and to be hesitant.

I love this scene. I love how at 0:25 Cap–a good guy! A decent, fairly perceptive guy!–says it might be a good time to get angry.

How he actually thinks he might need to speak up and tell Banner it’s a good time to get angry.

(Oh, Cap. I’m sure you mean well. I know you mean well. I know you’re speaking up because you’re nervous, because you don’t understand how someone who is so calm and quiet could possibly be anything close to as angry as they need to be. But… shhhh. We’ve got this.)

And Banner doesn’t even blink. He explains, like it’s an obvious thing (and it is!), and then he unfurls.

(The Hulk is fundamentally a good and well-intentioned creature. This makes the Hulk different from, say, depression. But this isn’t about the Hulk, except in terms of how the Hulk casts Bruce Banner’s accomplishment into proper relief.)

Banner lives with this all the time. This thing inside him. This thing that is always there, that means that even when he is angry he has to manage himself, he has to not show it, because if he starts indulging himself and turns into Mr Shouty the way all the others do, it will go badly. Because his anger, released, is so much worse. It is terrifying. It is an annihilating force that results in a level of destruction that is incomprehensible coming from a normal human.

This is not fair. Banner has been robbed of the catharsis of expressing small, normal amounts of a negative emotion, in safe ways.

Banner is angry all the time. But he cannot let himself indulge. And so he looks hesitant, and he acts weak. And sometimes he lets go, and he’s the Hulk. And that’s cool, because this is after all the Avengers movie.

But the rest of the time, that quiet hesitant man? That still figure in the corner speaking in soft tones?

He’s holding back the Hulk.

With all he’s been through, while he was frightened and hunted and alone, dealing with unimaginable pressure, he has learned to hold back the Hulk.

I love Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner.

Words and days

So, the Rejectionist (Sarah McCarry’s blog, which I know of and have dipped into but have not settled down and regularly followed[1]) is currently working on an interview project; she’s looking to post interviews with writers who manage depression and mental illness.

Looking at the rest of what she’s written, I think it will be an interesting and informative series to follow.

(There is something I have been trying to articulate about depression, even if it isn’t particularly new or insightful, but it hasn’t gelled for a bit. Will try and get it out this month.)
[1] Can I have more time, please? Like… four hours a day more time. Four hours a day where I could spend three on nothing but reading, and one on cleaning. Just a year of twenty-eight hour days.

A crazy with a butcher knife.

(The language in this post is going to be highly questionable and problematic. I am aware of this; it’s part of the point.)

There’s a crazy with a butcher knife in my neighbourhood. On my street, even.

And not just a butcher knife. She’s got a sledgehammer in the house. Garden shears–those really heavy duty ones that could snip right through fingers, could probably even cut chunks off a hand if she beat someone down first so they couldn’t struggle very well.

And no-one goes around warning people. They let her live in a neighbourhood where there are kids! And pets! They even let her keep a microwave, for Christ’s sake. She has cats in her house! Doesn’t everyone understand what one crazy with the kind of kitchens that normal people use could do to a cat?! And when her dog had surgery, they let her take care of it! Did no-one even think about how easily she could have hurt that animal by grabbing one of its legs and wrenching the joints that just had surgery around in a circle? Or by kicking the incision?

And her mother-in-law leaves her alone with the nieces and nephews sometimes. With children.

Really, it’s fine if that husband of hers is stupid enough to put on headphones so he couldn’t hear her if she snuck up on him, or actually fall asleep when she’s still up and walking around, not to mention giving her access to the joint checking account and letting her have her own key. But shouldn’t someone keep her from being around people that are too complacent in their ignorance to understand what it means to be crazy?

…and oh dear God do I ever wish there was a way to keep her away from people who are content to toss the word “crazy” around while being complacently ignorant of what it means to be mentally ill. Because she’s me, and those people are an incredibly draining pain in the ass.

I’m crazy–oh, sorry a crazy. Mentally ill. Batshit, cracked, insane, toys in the attic, not playing with a full deck, all those lovely thoughtful words and phrases.

(It occurs to me that tossing the word crazy around as a noun when discussing people is perhaps somewhat akin to tossing the word female around as a noun rather than an adjective when discussing people. You can have reasonable discussions while you’re doing it, sure. I just find it’s a lot more common to see it in the kind of conversation where someone goes on about how females behave despite how he’s apologized for the behaviour of other men and then people look at his comments and look at each other and at have conversations like “he’s… not usually a jackass, is he?” “no, not usually – I hope he just phrased himself badly” and then get on to saying “feeeeMAAAllles” at each other in silly Ferengi accents and laughing at him.)

Today, I got up when perkycat started chirping for food. I fed the cats, then I put away the dishes that had been in the drying rack overnight and decided to properly scrub out the coffee carafe before brewing coffee. The dog didn’t come down, so I didn’t worry about her food or pills just then. I cleaned the litter boxes and read a little while I was waiting for oldcat to finish her gooshyfood (if one of us isn’t around, rutabagacat will start edging up to her, which annoys her, and then dive for it the second she’s done, and he’s not allowed), and went back to bed to doze until the alarm went off. I had breakfast when I got up again, and coffee, and because I’m working from home today I spent the morning fixing code to produce accessible webpages.

(You know, I think they don’t even check my work to see if I’ve sneakily hidden dismemberment fantasies or bomb instructions in the comments. How trusting of the fools! It’s as if they expected me to behave in a professional manner!)

I’ve put on a load of laundry, have just logged into a MMORPG game to roll over my character’s professions, and am currently deciding what I want to do for lunch (the convenience of leftovers? the exercise of walking down to Starbucks and using my free item on a fruit-and-cheese bistro box?).  This afternoon I will finish up my work, and tonight I will probably read, and write, and catch up on TV, and maybe knit, and no-one will have their eye put out because thanks very much the crazy is actually way more interested in making progress on this cable pattern than she is in stabbing at people with sharp metal needles.

This is a not particularly surprising day in my life.

I’m crazy, and I’m getting really goddamn bored of that being used as a shorthand for a character that’s vicious and unreasonable and uncontrolled and a danger to others and possibly already has a string of murders and mutilations on her hands, instead of one who’s consciously learnt a bunch of coping and self-management strategies that some other people are lucky enough not to need.

Keeping moving.

It’s… wow.  I didn’t realize it had been nearly a month.  I remember this time last year, when I was writing just about daily, and…  Well.  It’s not something I’m going to fix by not writing, I guess.

I’m adjusting to not being on meds for depression, after five years.  I seem to be better, and I am very very glad about that.  I’m not okay; there have been bad days.  But they haven’t been as severe as they were before I had to start seeing my therapist and go onto meds.  I know that depression can sometimes mellow as you age[1], and I’ve learnt better coping strategies, and I suppose it’s possible that now I can manage without medication.  I don’t know yet.

One of the more common side-effects[2] of the meds I was on was what I’m going to loosely characterize as fuzzy-brain–absentmindedness, forgetfulness, confusion, some lack of interest or initiative.  That quality was more or less present in my life for the last five years.  But between five years on assorted medication and my untreated depression before that, I’m not entirely clear on how integral that quality is to me.  So after consideration (and medical consultation), I’m trying life without psych meds and hopefully I can get a baseline on how I think and how my brain works when I am not either medicated or severely depressed.

I would like to be able to manage depression without medication; not because life without medication is better or purer or any other such bootstrapped nonsense, not because my life when I needed medication was less worthwhile.  But life without medication is marginally more secure–I never need to worry about being on vacation and losing my meds, about not being able to pay for them, about losing them in a house fire, I never need to worry even theoretically about a bad batch (although I never did worry about that, but you take my point).

…well, hey.  Managed to articulate something about my life at the moment, and to get something written as well.  I will call that a double win, I guess.

[1] Presuming, of course, it lets you age.  (Pardon, a touch of habromania.)

[2] There are no side-effects; there are only effects you would prefer not to dwell on.

Worn to the quick.

I’m tired and angry. I can’t actually seem to stop being tired and angry, and there’s nothing in particular which I can think of that would have caused either, although there is a lot of flare-up of the angry for very little provocation. Taken all together, that’s a pretty good sign that I am having a bad day, I cannot trust my judgement at the moment, and I am probably going to crawl off to bed early and spend a lot of tomorrow muttering “I love my meds” and trying not to get prickly with my coworkers.

I hate this.

This isn’t interesting, I know. It doesn’t even interest me, and it’s unfortunately occupying a lot of my attention right now, but it’s not interesting. Like road rash, I imagine: also not interesting, also something that comes to the forefront of your mind and pushes out useful things. I know it’s not interesting, but dear god is it engrossing me at the moment, and as I am trying to get something written today, this is what it is about.

Four more days to the weekend. And I got my hands on the second Cthulhu Apocalypse books early this morning, which seems to be more in a toolkit-for-apocalypses (apocali? apocalypsos?) vein, so that might be interesting on the bus, or something.

I’ll be better tomorrow. Just need to get there from here.

It’s the little things.

The depression came up in a way I would honestly not have expected today.

I’ve got a cold.  A really pretty vicious one–I sound worse than Harold, all wheezy and cracked, and as shall shortly become apparent, I am having trouble focussing.  I made it out to the drugstore and got orange juice and tissues and Powerade and expectorant.  And then I came back, and I discovered that that cough medicine in question advises that I consult a doctor before taking it if I am taking medication for depression.

It turns out that it can have some really fun interactions with my meds; I couldn’t made sense of that, but I managed to find a couple of people who were very kindly willing to explain, and the short version is something like “your meds slow down metabolism of that drug, how do you feel about potentially extreme side-effects including seizures?”

One of them also suggested calling a medical professional to check, which was helpful because that possibility had honestly not occurred to me in my current state. Despite the label on the cough medicine saying “Talk to a doctor before using this product if…”

Yeah, I’m that level of sick-and-out-of-it.

Anyway, I got a callback from the doctor’s office, and it should be okay.

It’s just…

There’s a very good analogy about spoons that explains how you need to manage things, think about things that most people get to take for granted.  And I’m not saying that tripping up on taking cough medicine is the same as having Lupus!  But needing to check, consciously learning that I need to pay attention to labels (even in this state, where I looked at the label before buying the stuff and didn’t even register that bit until I got home), it’s a weird feeling.  A reminder that yes, this is part of my life and it’s going to mean paying attention, and sometimes the same condition that puts me in a state where I need to pay attention to things is going to be the condition that means I’m not able to do it.

It’s tiring, I guess.  I wish I had a better word.

(In the meantime, though, I have made sure that the light of my life has the information on exactly which drugs and at what dosage I’m on, readily to hand.  Between this and the “it should probably be fine”, I am going to stop sending energy on worrying and go drink a lot of orange juice.)

Settling on Sundays.

I want to say it’s been a long day, but it really hasn’t.  It’s been mostly a very pleasant day.  I’m just tired drained.  I’m anxious about work, and hoping it’ll be done soon.  And I ache, and I don’t know why I’m still hungy.  I made a decent dinner, even if it ended up taking nearly two hours from start to finish, and I was getting upset at trying to juggle everything.

I just want a day to stay home and sleep.  Instead I’m going to turn in early enough for a full night’s rest, show up cheerful and enthusiastic about the job tomorrow, and quietly count down the days until I’m done.  I believe this is called being a grown-up, or something, and is closely tied to finding work and making people not curse your presence.

(Meantime, the friend I’m writing a story with has been busy lately (which is fine!) and so have I, but from the time we’ve had to talk I can’t help but feel that while being busy she’s getting more actually done.)

Despite coordinating schedules, I am actually too worn to pay attention to American Horror Story or Walking Dead, so we’re catching up on Supernatural.  It’s nice to sit back and watch characters deal with a monster of the week, and I like the openly fake psychic who is pleasant and reasonable about her job.  It’s still clever rather than creepy, though, and I can’t remember when it last managed to be creepy–

(That said, the meta-commentary about brothers working together made me laugh.)

I suppose it’s hard to sustain tension, which is an essential element of creepy, when you know characters are either going to survive (Winchesters, Bobby) or else can’t be expected to be there for longer than an episode (everyone else).  Should keep that in mind when writing, I suppose.

I’m rambling, I know.  I think I’m about due to turn in.

Back to the secrets of houses, and the horror therein.

Finally catching up with American Horror Story.  Not tonight’s episode, but last week’s.  Nonetheless, spoiler break, since I have no idea if anyone else is lagging as much as I am.  (Apparently it’s being broadcast later in some places?)

I am rather pleased with how the reveal about Tate was handled over the last few episodes. Continue reading “Back to the secrets of houses, and the horror therein.”

Walking amongst the Dead

Yeah, there’s been more Walking Dead than American Horror Story lately.  The light of my life has laid hands upon Skyrim, and I’m holding off on watching new episodes without him.

Daryl’s my favourite character[1], although I think that’d change if we saw more of Glenn.  Stupid situation or not, something to be said for a guy who manages to lasso a zombie while being in serious danger of being dropped on it.  And is not charging merrily forward on the “OMG sex” bandwagon (pet peeve; have had too many people drop the “if a guy does not immediately jump at offers of (straight) sex, there is something wrong with him” line lately).  And sticks his neck out for utter strangers on a pay-it-forward theory.  And (practical or not) cares about how the formerly living dead are treated…

…okay, now?  Now I’m annoyed we haven’t seen more of Glenn.  Daryl’s cool, and Rick’s decent, but Glenn’s kind, and while I can understand that not being hugely valuable I think it’s important.  (How much has he been around this season?)  It’s not like it’s a case of people just needing to do anything they have to to get over the next hill; there doesn’t seem to be any greater social structure or network left.  If people who are scrabbling for their lives aren’t kind, it’s not as if people who aren’t scared and in danger will pick up the slack.  If people who are scrabbling for their lives aren’t kind, then no-one is kind, and that is a sad sad world.

I confess, in a fit of being horribly unjaded and sympathetic towards people who have had their lives fall apart, I like most of the characters.  Actually all of the group from last season except Carl and T-Dog and Sophie, who really seem the least fleshed-out; they’re watercolour sketches.  (Also I’m disappointed we haven’t seen more of the Greenes yet.)  I’d probably be a lot less sympathetic if I had to deal with the characters (see: Shane), but I like watching them.  It’s easier to put up with and watch their human failings from the safety of my living room.

Andrea makes me the most uneasy–I can see how she’s gone from having something to prove to having explicitly failed to prove it and, having been guilted out of a clean and relatively painless suicide, has sort of given up on these silly things like “group bonding” and “relying on others”.  She’ll still learn from them, which is practical, and I think she might still feel mild affection towards some of them, but in a really fundamental sense she seems to have checked out, and it makes me sad.[2]  And I get being upset–furious–at being guilted out of a clean and painless and easily-managed death.

At the same time… well.  A solid chunk of her is looking to kill herself.  I’m trying to figure out where to stand between the “ohgod I’ve been there, no-one can blame you for wanting this but that doesn’t mean a sane you would want it, please please don’t” and the “you know, even us stressed and crazy people can actually manage to make real and valid decisions about what we want to do with our lives”, and…

Been on both sides of that.  Like I said… uneasy.

[1] “Copperhead Road” ninja.
[2] Actually, looking back on last season, it also annoys me that the characters who chose to kill themselves were two women and one of those edumacated guys.

Madness and the pet monster.

“I really need your help. I don’t want to be like this. I want to be a good person.”

Right, well, Tate has just gained a ridiculous amount of sympathy from me.  I have been there.  I mean, I haven’t nearly chewed anyone’s face off to make a point or defend my crush, but I have been there.  (Yes, more American Horror Story, although no spoilers this time.)

Knowing that there’s something wrong, but that even then the mind you use to understand that truth is off.  And knowing isn’t enough to fix it, thinking about it isn’t enough to fix it, wanting it isn’t enough, trying isn’t enough…

It’s hell, and there is no-one I’d wish that on. Continue reading “Madness and the pet monster.”