30 November 2011

2011 holiday gift guide

Embrace your meds!

Except for #1, I found these items by searching for "pills" on Etsy. The studs in #1 were featured recently in a Tomboy Style post.

Clockwise from top left:

1. 14K gold Alprazolam Rx pill studs by Loren Stewart $205.00.

2. Bronze pill necklace by LostApostle $55.00.

3. Red and blue pill Matrix-inspired earrings by cosplaycraft $3.00.

4. Yellow resin stud earrings by greeneyedgirl $10.00 (also available in blue).

5. Xanax cameo stretch bracelet by joolzhayworth $56.00.

6. Dog tag-style abstract pill necklace by spexton $84.00.

7. Amethyst and silver pill container/prayer box/perfume bottle pendant by MegaBeadStore $41.99

8. Especially handy at family gatherings:
Balinese poison ring by Telur $39.99.

29 November 2011

Are you able to filter out the good memories from your depressed periods and enjoy them? How long did it take before you were able to do that?

by Nia and Soledad

Nia: I can now but it took a long time. For high school, which was the worst period, maybe 15 years. Later periods did not take as long.

A possible factor in this long delay might be that after high school I rarely spoke with any of my friends from that time, so had no one with whom to relive and strengthen the positive, shenanigans-related memories and thus create some counter-balance to my Extra-Large-Sledgehammer-of-Mental-Doom memories.

But eventually they lost their hold over me and I could recount amusing stories like normal people do. There was the otherwise prim-and-proper friend who made up obscene lyrics to the theme from "MASH" and sang them on the bus, and the time I was set up on a blind double date with the closest thing to a feral human being I've ever seen.

A while ago I realized that I've loved perfume since grade school and can remember every scent I've worn at any given time in my life, but strangely I had never registered this before. I just considered it a necessity, like bathing regularly or Oreos. I had the same experience with science-fiction movies. I saw almost every one that came out, back when they were considered two steps above zombie movies, but never thought of it as a hobby until a lot later.

Maybe that's normal? Or maybe it's due to a blunting of emotions early on by the depression, or because none of my friends have ever shared these interests so I had no one to talk with about them, except for a guy in college who could name every perfume I wore. (Which should've been a tip-off.)


Soledad: I find that I am able to filter out the good memories from bad when the bad times are several years past.

Lately I often tell terrible tales from my dating days. Thankfully they are from long ago and I can laugh about them now! But at the time they really depressed me. It was incredible to me how many morally bankrupt people I encountered, and how many people just didn't seem to care.

When you can look back at a terrible time and laugh, it means you're moving forward, feeling good about where your life is headed, and yet still aware of the lessons learned from those darker times. I think it often takes a few years, sometimes longer, depending on the nature and cause of a person's depressed periods, to really be able to look back and say, "Hey, it sucked at the time, but I learned a lot about myself and what not to do. And it now all seems so ridiculous because I am a different person now, and I'd never do what I did back then that contributed to my sadness."

You just have to arrive at a place where you give yourself a lot of credit for everything you've been through, and give yourself a pat on the back for staying strong, surviving, and emerging victorious despite all the bad crap that seems to fall into every life at various times. Crap happens. So you may as well learn to live with it and laugh at it when you can.

Here's to happy living and laughing despite the crap. Happy holidays!

Photo: detail of "William H. Egberts examining trepanned skulls in the anthropology laboratory at the National Museum," 1926, photographer unknown, National Photo Collection, Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication.

19 November 2011

Discuss: "Depression makes you more creative." and/or "Depressives are more creative."

By Nia and Soledad

Nia: I've heard this discussion several times over the years but when I start to think about it I just come up with more questions.

When people say more creative, do they mean more talented? Capable of producing better quality art?

I have found that introverts assume extroverts are shallow and I think depressives have the same feelings about non-depressives, especially if they (the mood-challenged) are saddled with depression early in life. They want to find some meaning or payoff in all the misery. They tell themselves they are more sensitive or smarter or that they see the world more clearly or that they're the true conscience of the universe.

In college I met a performing arts major who had obviously never had a low moment in her life. She once said, "I'm used to being ecstatic every minute of the day." She made my teeth grind, but I figured the universe would even out the score and make her a mediocre actress. Of course she turned out to be perfectly fine. That was an education.

If you're depressed you'll often be drawn more to the darkest music/literature/art, which is often produced by people who have known dark moods. Is the darker stuff more creative or better? Are depressed creatives more creative than non-depressed creatives? Can you compare with the same criteria the creations of two people with radically different moods/worldviews/outlooks?

Would an otherwise non-creative person become a creative one if he developed depression and was encouraged to express it through some form of art therapy? (Here we must imagine an alternate reality in which the mental health care community is competent and enlightened.)

Finally, are creative people better than non-creative people? That's silly: of course we are. In fact those dimwit f---ktards are lucky we don't put them on a reservation.


Soledad: I think depression does inspire creativity. More songs have been penned in depressive states than in jolly ones, that's for sure. That depressed feeling can put you in touch with your inner reserves of creativity.

I always think of Gwen Stefani of No Doubt writing the song "Don't Speak" in her room, after breaking up with her bandmate Tony, who never really loved her back. I just love that song; it's haunting and beautiful. Sara McLachlan's songs touch me the same way. It's obvious she writes from the very deep recesses of the heart.

I have written poetry when depressed and come up with some deep, jarring verse myself. The Beatles used to say that pot made them creative. I think being "contemplative" (as I prefer to refer to depression) gives you the same access to create resonating stories and lyrics that touch people with slices of real life -- real "I've been there" stories.

Do I think that people who are contemplative are far more creative than people whose minds simply aren't wired this way? Without a doubt. A recent entry on the blog The Universe expresses this:

Usually the most beautiful people, the most popular and loved, the "in" and chic, cool and hip, are the last ones to ever wonder about life, how it really works, manifesting change, and making a difference. . . You beat the system.

I love that, as it refers to the extra gift we have. We have a sixth sense for seeing life's real power that superficial people just don't have. It's what inspires writers, artists, and musicians to create some of the great artistic wonders of the world. We use our power to help others feel, relax, learn, love and endure. Artists like Sara McLachlan and Gwen Stefani are rich for a reason: because they have used their powers for good, and the world has "hugged" them back for their gifts to humanity. Karma is a beautiful thing.

Illustration by M. Rhea.

10 November 2011

Things I'm thankful for, and a few I wish would disappear

by Nia


1. The blogosphere. Here you can find people who like anything you like, discussing it in an articulate, meaningful way even if it's as niche and irrelevant to the fate of the universe as 1930s toasters or velour tracksuits or the topic that hooked me: perfume. I secretly suspect that blogging's reputation as pathetic and sad was started by professional writers who stumbled online and found that lots of people who do not write for a living are perfectly good at it. It put a perspective on their widdle talents that they just can't handle-wandle.

2. My apartment's plumbing. Whoever decided to install institutional-strength toilets in this crumbling edifice was a saint. It makes the loo look like a federal facility, and flushes like an F-14 taking off, but in ten years the toilet has not backed up once, which happens to be a phobia of mine.

3. TV on DVD.
Remember when TV was a joke? When it was considered career death for a movie actor to appear on TV? Now you can sort through decades of dross and find the good stuff and watch it whenever you want and as long as you want without a single word from our sponsor.

4. Wheels on suitcases. I for one have never taken this for granted. Years of lugging my family's vinyl behemoths through airports scarred me permanently. Every time I get my little rolling backpack out, I send a prayer of thanks to the luggage gods.

5. Sign language for toddlers. Small people in the pre-language phase tend to blame you for your failure to understand their babbling, screeching, and eyebrow waggling. I was on the receiving end of a lot of soul-destroying "You are an amateur" looks until I finally mastered the signs my younger relatives were learning in nursery school. It turned out they were just hitting me up for food.


1. The blogosphere. The legions of mouth-breathing blogging cretins out there can be divided into three camps: juvenile/offensive, arrogant/ignorant, and mind-numbingly-boring/smiley-face-super-positive. The latter is over-represented on women's networking sites, where 99% of the members have that Hi!!!!! tone that makes it impossible to tell them apart. Shouldn't these people be regulated? Or at least required to register in a central database somewhere?

2. Four- and five-inch heels in everyday, mid-priced shoe collections.
Remember when only designer labels or Frederick's of Hollywood sold the super-high heels? Now you can't get away from them. Even TV and movie actresses have developed a lurching, pitched-forward walk to accommodate them. And as other commentators have observed about high heels in general, why would you willingly hobble yourself? When archaeologists dig them up in 2,000 years they'll figure they were some sort of livestock restraint.

3. TV characters who have a new outfit every day. (FYI: women continue to catalog other females' wardrobes long after we leave high school.) The girl on "Veronica Mars" lived in a converted motel but had at least three leather jackets. Compare "I Love Lucy," in which Mrs. Ricardo wore the same 15 ensembles for five years.