Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ain't got wings.... Comin' down is the hardest thing....

I found this on (And let's be honest, what isn't on youtube these days??)

It's two of my favorite artists, Mat Kearney and Matt Nathanson, trying to finesse their way through a cover of Tom Petty's Learning to Fly.

Thing is, there was something so perfect about it. So perfect about how I'm feeling and how much I love those guys and that song even if they did butcher it just a little bit.

Isn't that really what life is about? Learning to fly?

We crash and we dust ourselves off and we try again.

And, honestly, you'll be hard pressed to find more truth than "Comin' down is the hardest thing..."

Except perhaps finding the courage to keep on crashing... That's even more difficult.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

You would think there's at least be a hideous plaque or something...

Well, congratulations Austin!!

You've been ranked #1 in the 2007 Fall Allergy Capitals!! Making you "The Most Challenging Place to Live with Fall Allergies." (And to think, it's not even Cedar Season yet!!

It was quite the meteoric rise from your Spring Allergy Capital ranking this year of #24 ~ a sad showing below both Phoenix and Tuscon! (Isn't Arizona supposed to be heaven for allergy sufferers???) And also quite the jump from last Fall where you only ranked #12, behind San Antonio and Dallas/Ft Worth. But this year you showed them!!

You go Austin!!

As for me, I'll be hitting the Zyrtec-D, Singular, and Nasonex and be keeping close to my HEPA filtered home.

To check Allergy Capital rankings:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You have got to be kidding me....

Since the Boston Globe doesn't have have a permalink function, I can't link to this article. Instead, I've reprinted it with the Boston Globe copyright intact.

I miss my depression
By Tim Bugansky

November 20, 2007


AUTUMN visited Israel recently. The temperature sank, chilly rain spattered the streets, the wind tossed the trees to and fro. As I sat outside on the porch one night, I found my mind yanked back to Ohio, and I was struck by a familiar pang of sadness - and I missed, achingly, the decade when I was clinically depressed.

The irony of depression - for me, at least - was that it made me feel a pervasive sadness that pierced my heart like frigid, jagged glass, but it also made me feel supremely alive. Depression isolated me within myself, yet through its ever-present melancholy, it also made me feel completely connected to the world.

Anything had the potential to envelop me in tentacles of despondency: a parking lot at dusk; illuminated living rooms on dark city streets with families moving about inside; an elderly man hobbling through a store all by himself; train tracks disappearing into the distance.

These were amplified by the gracefully turbulent decay that accompanies autumn in Ohio, where I have spent most of my life. Brisk breezes bore reminders that life is fleeting. The moon hung morosely above cornfields. Brittle leaves crunched resoundingly like fragile hearts underfoot.

Amidst the crushing poignancy, I was also more creative, more perceptive, more in tune with the world. I can remember entire weeks when I was depressed more clearly than I can remember the particulars of any one day last week. Although days were interminable back then, they were also alive and palpable, bursting with beautiful futility.

It's been four years now since I began a course of treatment, swallowing daily a white pill that changes not only my brain chemistry, but also the very ways I perceive the world, the ways the world affects me. Besides all the questions antidepressants raise about reality and perception, "mental illness" and normalcy, my personal reality is that I am different now. Antidepressants altered my existence.

I eat and sleep more regularly. I can now get sad without venturing into the borderlands of despair. I can get happy without that happiness seeming like the gleaming tip of an iceberg - full of splendor at the surface, but dwarfed by the hulking dark mass of potential disappointment beneath.

I don't mean to glorify depression. Had I not taken those little white pills, I would probably have become seriously ill, more and more troubled, increasingly incapable of living in a world constructed by and for the "normal." There is no question that depression can and does hurt people, both the depressed and those around them.

But while depression is often portrayed or understood in simple terms, it is more than just an affliction. Its complexity is all the more apparent to me now that it is absent from my life; yet the memory of it can still transport me from the edge of the Middle Eastern desert to the American heartland.

And I wonder - as I sit outside on quiet nights and sense the seasons shifting and wish that I could "feel" the phenomenon like I used to - I wonder how many others like me are out there in the world, wandering through their own private autumns, fortunate to be alive today yet missing the brilliant sadness of the past.

Tim Bugansky, a writer and teacher in Israel, is author of "Anywhere But Here." He wrote this column for the International Herald Tribune.

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

Personally, I find this Op-Ed insulting, naive, ignorant and repulsive. It is completely lacking in respect for anyone who struggles and survives a life with real depression.

Those people know the numbing effect of a disease that, to paraphrase a talk* given by William Styron, causes the brain so much pain that it is incapable of doing anything but enumerate its own suffering.

It's odd, at best, that the Globe would choose to print such an article just one day after it printed a science piece on new research showing that depression may cause degeneration of the hippocampus, the part of the brain believed to have an essential role in memory. Further, the use of SSRIs (a class of anti depressants) may actually regenerate neurons in the hippocampus.

Take a moment to soak that in. Depression is connected to the part of the brain that controls memory. Memory, say, of the things that usually bring a person happiness and pleasure.

So, while the rest of us are in some fog ~ all joy, beauty, and interest forgotten. Some even feeling so numb with lack of emotion that they harm themselves just to feel. Mr. Bugansky is experiencing life on a new ultrasensory level.

Mr. Bugansky, I'd like you to meet Mr. Frey. The two of you will be spending a long, long time together in a place we call a Special Hell. This one is reserved for lying liars who lie.

*This talk was given at a symposium at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in the mid to late 1980s and later became the basis for Styron's memoir Darkness Visible. The particular quote I refer to did not make it from the speech to the manuscript, but remains one of my favorite pieces of prose from his talk.