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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Some Thoughts on Chester Bennington

When I was 14, I had a Yahoo Geocities website. It was terrible. It was everything you expected from a 14-year-old’s personal webpage—autoplaying music, self-congratulatory inside jokes, and a whole lot of pop-culture (Invader Zim!) references. One of the sections of the site was a “shrines” page, which contained collages of whatever male celebrities I was crushing on at the time. One of these men was Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington.

No more were the posters of *NSync and Aaron Carter. What used to be 100.3 Z-100 hit music radio was now 92.3 K-rock. And crooning love songs were now replaced with angsty ballads of bitterness and betrayal.

I bought blue flame shoelaces from Hot Topic to mirror Chester’s blue flame wrist tattoos. I claimed to have a “thing” for men with lip rings. I made my middle school agenda book cover a meta-collage from my “shrines” page, Chester Bennington taking a prominent position near the top.

14 Years Later – 7/20/17

I was getting ready to go to therapy with my psychologist when I refreshed my Facebook page and found out Chester was dead.

The news broke via TMZ less than 30 minutes before my Facebook friends got to it.

I was supposed to see Linkin Park live for the first time in my life the next week Friday, July 28th – at Citi Field in Flushing, NY.

I didn’t have much time to process before I headed out the door to therapy. The shock was still fresh. “How did this happen?” “I was just listening to Linkin Park.” “What is going to happen to my tickets?”

The last time a suicide of a celebrity affected me was in 2008 when David Foster Wallace hung himself.

DFW understood depression:

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

While DFW’s literary musings on depression and suicide gave some insight into his mind in the final days, Chester Bennington leaves only a few interviews, regarding childhood abuse and the dissolution of his first marriage, and the lyrics to his songs.

“Breaking the Habit” seems oddly prescient.

The fact that it was Chris Cornell’s birthday was probably not a coincidence.

Drugs and alcohol probably didn’t help.

But we’ll probably never know what Chester was thinking as he was preparing to hang himself in the early morning hours less than a week before his tour with Machine Gun Kelly was about to start.

Suicide is an awfully complicated subject to wrap when your head around. When it hits this hard and this close, the emotional fallout is hard to predict.

“I don’t think this will affect me too hard,” I told my therapist. “There’s just so many celebrity suicides these days; I think I’m kinda numb to them.”

That was just the shock talking.

I felt it later that night.

David Foster Wallace once said that the purpose of good literature was to make readers feel less alone. I think I can say the same about good music.

Thank you, Chester Bennington, for helping me and many others feel less alone.

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Adventures in Welfare

August 7, 2016 4 comments

I would consider myself largely a failure at life. I barely graduated high school on time (I was almost held back twice for medical absences.), I dropped out of college, and I have had a mental breakdown at nearly every job I have ever held. I feel like there a couple kinds of depression: There’s normal person depression, which consists of going through life in a foggy haze, never knowing which way is up, but pushing forward nonetheless; and then there’s my kind of depression, where I can’t leave the house for up to 6 months at time and I drop to 90 pounds because I physically cannot eat. Being a failure at life entails lots of unpleasantness and deviations from normal person milestones. It also involves dealing with the faceless bureaucracies known colloquially known as “welfare.”

I first applied for welfare in New Jersey when I was around 20. By this time, I had driven the full scholarship I had to community college into the ground and had quit a near-minimum wage retail job. I applied for the trifecta of welfare: cash assistance (TANF), Medicaid, and food stamps (SNAP). I applied online and shortly after received a letter for an interview.

The Morris County Office of Temporary Assistance is a sad brown 1-story building located next to a Juvenile Detention Facility. In this sad building I waited about a half an hour in a sad line with lots of sad babies and their sad mothers just to speak to the receptionist so I could be directed to line of chairs in a sad hallway where I would wait another half hour and then then be directed to my second to last destination—a super sad, medium-sized waiting room.

My appointment was scheduled at 1 PM. I had shown up 15 minutes early. It was 2PM by the time I got to the waiting room. A thin 30-something guy with glasses walks in from the purgatory hallway and sits across from me.

“MEH!” he yells. “M-m-m-Mehhhhhh!” Everyone looks at him. “Sorry,” he says, apologetically. “I have Tourette’s.”

I sit across from Tourette’s guy for three more hours. He only has one tic and its name is “Meh!” There are no magazines, only a television with local news playing. There are children of various ages playing with each other interrupted every couple minutes by a stuttering “Meh!” and a rehearsed explanation for the people that just walked in.

Around 5 PM I finally get my interview and I teeter in the room feeling like I just had to listen to “What’s New Pussy Cat” for three hours. The worker who processes me looks like she was fresh out of college but the real world had quickly beat her into submission. Monotone and empty-eyed she leads me through the process, which is mostly just me signing multiple statements that I won’t commit fraud.

About another month later I receive my EBT card. Food stamps are generous enough—about $200 a month, but the cash assistance is only $70. Apparently, the state of New Jersey believes that a person can live off of $840 a year.

A couple years later I move to New York and apply for welfare here. There was a similar 5-hour long appointment for the meager cash allotment of $70 a month. There is a 24-month lifetime limit on cash assistance, so I ran that out pretty quickly. Conservatives and libertarians who believe that moochers can live comfortably off welfare indefinitely are sadly mistaken.

What I should have done at this point is apply for disability on the federal level. But instead I foolishly tried to work another retail job. This ended badly and I then spent the next couples years racking up hefty credit card bills while paying off the minimum on my meager savings.

The time comes every 6 months to renew my food stamps (SNAP). Well, one of these times I get a letter saying I did not send documents that I did in fact send. My food stamps get cut off. I’m pretty heavily in a depressive episode at this point so I just mope around and put my food expenses on my credit cards. Eventually I work up the courage to go to the sad building of endless waiting lines once again. I bring my documents, wait another month, and finally get my food stamps reinstated.

6 months later I have to re-certify again. I don’t have to go the sad building (thank god) but I do have a phone interview scheduled to complete the re-certification. The day comes for the phone interview and no one ever calls. If I don’t re-certify by the end of the month I’ll have my food stamps cut off again. I call the general help number on the re-certification letter to try and get help for the situation. No one picks up and it goes to a voice mailbox that’s full. I call four more times over the next two days. No one ever picks up and it goes to the voicemail that won’t take messages. I find the number for the state human resources department and call Albany. They transfer me several times to someone who says they’ll call me back. Luckily, someone does call back in a few days and gives me a new appointment. The appointment is close to the date I’ll get food stamps cut off which makes me nervous. I do get a phone call early for the interview, although it is on a day that is nowhere near the appointment. I’m luckily available and finish the process.

These days I have everything I need except money. I am currently applying for Supplemental Security Income (Social Security), which would have me certified disabled. The unfortunate part about the entire disability process is that it takes about two years. Pretty much everyone agrees that this is ridiculous. Disabled people obviously can’t work, and while I usually can hold a shitty job for a couple months before my inevitable spiral back into depression, I’m sure the Social Security people would flag me as non-disabled if I did a stint. So right now I’m just kinda withering in poverty..

I applied for SSI a year ago, was rejected, and am currently in the process of appealing the denial. I’m also trying to find a disability lawyer who will take my case, but the legal aid program I’m trying to get into has failed to communicate with me about whether they’ll take my case. (They’ve been “reviewing” my medical documents for five months.) I’m looking for a better legal aid program or maybe a trustworthy private attorney.

So that’s been my situation for the last few years. This is also my first autobiographical blog post in a while. Sorry if it wasn’t that interesting; it’s hard to make a post about tedious things non-tedious, I plan on doing a couple non-autobiographical posts in the future, maybe some political commentary or something. I was briefly considering letting my domain registration lapse, but, thanks to a donation from a friend, Clantily Scad will live on at least another year.

Chemicals and Errata


oh Father, I have never known
disappointment like yours.

the crows that left their feet
dented in your drawing board
dive into view as I defy my destiny.

we are reckless because we evolve;
we are mortal and motionless and instincts
for survival collide at ninety degrees:
an instant made solely of broken feathers,
broken glass, and broken blood.

—–

I’ve had this partial poem in medias res stuck in a word document for over 8 years. Like a lot of things in my life, I have no idea how to begin or finish it. So here it is. Something with the potential to come in third place at a poetry reading if only it had a frame.

This is the first time I’m depressed during the summer for no distinct, discernible reason. The variable here is the Seroquel, which is great for the panic disorder, terrible for things like paying attention or enjoying life. Oh, and the being stuck in a poverty trap, because I need to keep my income low to qualify for Medicaid.  ‘Merica.

This is a pretty emotive acoustic piano cover of Brand New’s Jesus Christ:


—-

I’m still an atheist, but I’ve always been fascinated with the cultural power of religious imagery and also as literary archetypes. The doctrines might be bullshit, but stories have staying power for a reason. And that’s the part that interests me. How do you pierce the collective consciousness with your words?

Mary Karr does it pretty damn well in this piece that was obviously about David Foster Wallace:

  I loved so my ghost might inhabit you and you ingest my belief

in your otherwise-only-probable soul. I wonder does your
     death feel like failure to everybody who ever
           loved you as if our collective cpr stopped
too soon, the defib paddles lost charge, the corpse
     punished us by never sitting up. And forgive my conviction
           that every suicide’s an asshole. There is a good reason I am not
God, for I would cruelly smite the self-smitten.

  I just wanted to say ha-ha, despite

           your best efforts you are every second
alive in a hard-gnawing way for all who breathed you deeply in,
     each set of lungs, those rosy implanted wings, pink balloons.
          We sigh you out into air and watch you rise like rain.
We are just interjections, enjambed upon the line breaks of our lives.

Sadness, Sardonic Irreverance, Lies, and Tits

February 12, 2014 2 comments

“So it’s not something you can talk about with your friends?”

“Well, I do, but they ask me to come out and I’m like, well I can’t come out cause I’m filthy, and they’re like why don’t you take a shower, and I say no it’s on the inside.”

———-

Hai guys.

I’ve had a shitty fucking winter. I finally accepted after years of denial that I definitely from suffer from emotional dysregulation issues in dimensions way beyond unipolar depression and I also probably have a personality disorder mixed in there as well; neither of those Dxes really go away with time but both statistically increase my risk of dying by suicide. So I’ve been trying to figure out to cope with those aspects of my permanent brain fuckery after losing health insurance, ruining my long-term relationship, admitting I have a crippling prescription pill addiction, and moving back in with my parents.

…I wish this were the plot to an indie film in which complex psychological issues were mediated and superficially resolved during a denouement with a dance competition, but unfortunately this is my unscripted, personal human experience and I have not yet learned how to tango.

One of the most uncomfortable realities I’ve discovered about being trapped in a state of intense emotional flux is that all the existential anxiety is heightened and compounded by the need to constantly reevaluate the the oscillating levels of doubt and confusion, particularly those at stem from the false dichotomies society loves to throw out there, e.g., “That was the illness, not you!” <<Did that make any sense or was that just a bunch of redundant concepts with vague overlaps and missed ideological connections? Whatever. I’m writing this stoned on pills and dropped out of liberal arts school long before learning how to pronounce ‘Sartre.’

Anyway, to help resolve some of my identity crisis, I made a pie chart to capture a static qualitative representation of my core essence:

If there’s one thing I learned from being the psych ward multiple times, it’s that visual metaphors that oversimplify the human condition are among the most common therapeutic tools that therapists who graduated from a third tier public university with a Master’s in Social Work and the delusion that they’ll make a difference can pull out of his or her ass to help you understand yourself.

Understanding is the key to accepting. And accepting is the next step in recovery.

I should also probably declare Jesus as my lord and savior and Bill Nye as my spirit animal, but I’ll procrastinate making those decision later until I find a sponsor.

Good night, WordPress. I love you.

Semantics Won’t Do, Apologies From a Post-Manic Mind

November 18, 2013 1 comment

Now that I’ve “bottomed out” in my depression and don’t do anything, I’ve had a lot of time for massive amounts of unproductive, introspective analysis.

I’m the least functional during the nadir, but interestingly enough I prefer this to the “crash” phase. Less of a constant feeling of distress. Less crying. But still anxiety-inducing enough to do basic functions like go outside that I don’t.

I am also experiencing tremendous amounts of embarrassment about some of my behavior over the summer and during the subsequent crash. Some things I did have some basis in reason and intent. Others seem to have been wedged in distorted or exaggerated thinking, and I can only recognize it all now as the batshit crazy bullshit that it was.

I am also embarrassed about some of the mental gymnastics I pulled to rationalize things. There’s a few people to whom I want to personally acknowledge, but I’m too avoidant to bring it up right now so I’m just going to hope that they still read my blog occasionally and know who they are.

Thanks for calling me out when I needed to be called out. This is an open invitation to tell me I’m batshit anytime.

I hope that my partial self-awareness prevents further batshittery, but I think part of being batshit includes being blind.

(I spent like a week writing this post and I’m still only semi-satisfied with it. Finding the right words and putting them in the right order is hard for me these days.)

How To: Interact with a Depressed Person

October 28, 2013 5 comments

Via http://http://www.robot-hugs.com:

I’ve been largely AWOL from gchat and facebook this past week, which is atypical for my internet-addicted ass.

This weekend, I got a few text messages from my usual buddies wondering what I was up to and if I was okay.

I am not okay and don’t have any advice for them to give me, but It was nice to know that people notice when I’m not around. (Just for the record, I’m only a little bit of a creep and/or weirdo.)

I’d also like to note that I’m happy to see webcomics lightening up serious topics and getting more exposure and understanding for mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

And to my depressed internet, buddies out there, also hibernating for the winter:  Surround yourself with friends (if you’re up to it) and love yourself.

Notes on Sadness, Death, and Depression

October 8, 2013 2 comments

I know the seasonal sadness is kicking in because everything feels like a chore.

I have a ticket for NY Comic Con Thursday and I don’t really want to go. I had plans for a Mako Mori cosplay, but I don’t think I can afford to get my hair relaxed at the moment.

It’ll probably cost around $100 in this city. I’m having trouble justifying dropping that amount on credit for hair, but I also already have my ticket and already have most of the outfit.

Decision-making is hard.

My ex said he like me because of my “emotional nakedness.” He was ER doctor. He wasn’t into unnecessary suffering, so he would often talk families into pulling the plug on their demented, elderly who were dying and in pain. He’d come home after his 14-hour long residency shifts, and he’d be too tired for sex so we’d spoon on his couch while he talked about who he “killed” that day. I loved him a lot, but it didn’t work out because he wanted to have babies.

I turn 25 in a month, and I’m thinking about going up to Ithaca for my birthday. I had my best birthday up there when I was 21. I want to relive the upstate experience, which mostly involves being drunk and communing with nature.

I had the SAT scores and leadership cred to get into Cornell, but I didn’t apply. Instead I went to Cornell’s bastard sister school, Wells, because I wanted to surround myself with people I was better than. It was a decent strategy until I got horribly depressed and failed a literature final and then dropped out.

I applied to CUNY after that, for the very flippant reason I was dating a guy in NYC, but then Wells withheld my transcript because they mistakenly believed I owed them money. That eventually got worked out, and now I live in NYC, but I still haven’t gone back to school.

I miss driving, but I do not miss car insurance premiums.

I was once involuntarily hospitalized for marking a “5” on a 1-5 survey in a medical study. The question was something like, “How often to do you think about death?” I tried to explain to the doctors that mostly I got lazy towards the end of the survey and there were legitimate philosophical reasons for thinking about death, and they wrote down in the report that I was “being defensive.” I shut up when I realized things were going poorly and then they said I was, “guarded and evasive” and being “purposefully vague.” I lived a lifetime of Kafka novels that week.

While I was there, one of the many horrible things that happened was when they strapped a schizophrenic, Korean girl named Jacqueline down, just for calling a nurse a “bitch.” They kicked me out of my room so they restrain her to my bed. The entire time she kept screaming for Eddie; she had a tattoo of his name on her ankle surrounded by roses. It’s kinda sad and romantic—being in love with a made-up person.

American society is supposed to be civilized but we are still really barbarians.