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Empathy for mental illness: It cuts both ways

Since Robin Williams’s suicide, there has been a heightened national discussion of depression and other mental illness. Much of this discussion is from people who have experienced depression and can understand how it could drive a seemingly happy, successful, and loved person to suicide. Much of the more publicized discussion is from people who have not experienced depression (or think “a few bad days” or “sadness” is the same thing) and can not understand that.

I just read John Scalzi’s blog post responding to Henry Rollins’s victim-blaming LA Weekly piece (not linked here). Scalzi says in the post that he has not experience depression, but also that he knows that he does not know what it’s like.

On reading this, I realized that I have no understanding of what being mentally healthy is like. My mental illnesses are so much a part of my inner life, and have been literally as long as I can remember, that I don’t know what it would be like to view the world without that lens. These illnesses are better controlled now than they have ever been, but they are still present and I always know what it is like when they are, for lack of a term, asserting themselves.

The upshot is that I do not have the experience of a Henry Rollins or other victim-blamers. I do not understand what it is like to not understand these problems. Yes, the cultural wisdom is gradually moving toward a disease model of mental illness. But slowly, and not uniformly, either across social sectors, individuals, or specific disorders.

It makes me look in myself for some empathy for the mentally healthy as they respond (clumsily) to the mentally ill.

EDIT: My friend Tomio Black has followed this up with his own thoughts.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in General / Overhead, Health

 

PIcking a fight with readers: Country music

Please assume I’m aware of “You Never Even Called Me by My Name.”

My long-time nominee for the perfect country & western song was George Jones’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

This was superseded when I discovered Johnny Cash’s cover of “Long Black Veil.”

I argue that these approach the Platonic ideal of c/w song, but neither is my favorite..

That honor goes to Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (Kris’s recording, not the Cash, Nelson, or other covers). That’s the song I most think it a bad idea to drink to.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2014 in General / Overhead, Uncategorized

 

Suffocation

(with a pillow)

get me rock hard immediately and reliably.

Jalan is well aware of this.

That is all.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in Play

 

She takes care of me (now with kink!)

This was a higher-anxiety weekend than most have been lately. This is a good thing, n that my baseline levels of anxiety are declining again. But yesterday was a little rocky and I asked Jalan for some bondage. It is, as she knows well, soothing for me in most circumstances.

I still have the splint on one ankle, so she tethered the other ankle cuff to the foot of the bed with heavy chain. Jalan also got out the thigh cuffs that we haven’t used in a while, locked them on and together, then ran lighter (but still amply strong) chain from either thigh cuff to the side D-rings on my play collar, which was, say it with me now, locked on. It was just too short to be able to lie flat without tension. Finally, she locked my wrist cuffs in front to the opposite chains, around the level of my ribcage. So I could either leave my arms crossed, or pull them apart–which pulled the thigh-to-collar chains tighter.

Jalan tucked in the blankets around me and we watched TV (Salem, I believe, or maybe Fargo–we watched one of each yesterday), then she went downstairs to fix up some dinner while I rested in my bonds. Some time later, she brought up grilled-cheese sandwiches and home fries and uncuffed my wrists so I could eat easily.

She takes good care of me.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in General / Overhead

 

Missing masturbation (a good thing)

Most of the time since Jalan and I have been together, I have had a weekly quota for masturbating. Most often, exactly three. If it was a period of orgasm denial, then I still had to edge myself those three times. Under some versions, I could substitute solo anal play during a period of denial.

Last July, I asked that the quota be lifted. I was so scared, anxious, and tired with the health issues that it was demoralizing when I couldn’t get up (so to speak) the will to masturbate. Since then, the rule has been “Do as you’re told.” A handful (sorry) of times since then, she’s directed me to masturbate to orgasm. Maybe 5 or 6 times in the last 11 months.

Even when I was feeling more myself (can’t help it), though, the reconditioning had got to the point where I wasn’t even missing it / wishing for it. Which is not the goal of orgasm control in our relationship.

I’m happy to report, and Jalan is happy to hear, that I’m once again, over the last several weeks, wishing I were allowed to masturbate. I’m often waking up holding myself. Not that the rules have changed . . .

Yay, libido!

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Chastity and denial

 

Reconditioning, not so much

A bit of a setback.

The physical therapist Monday had no clue about CFS, and didn’t adapt his recommendations on the ankle for what I told him about it. His advice for reconditioning was not much more than “exercise as tolerated.”

In other words, I drew a sports medicine guy.

I did the assigned exercises Tuesday, and yesterday (Wednesday) I was a complete wreck with the fatigue symptoms. I tried to do a reduced set yesterday, but my calibration (and the PT’s) is still clearly off.

I’ll get there. I will. But it looks like reconditioning may be necessary <i>before</i> the PT work for the ankle.

grumblesigh

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Health

 

Reconditioning (starting slowly, and fishing for encouragement)

Ok, diving into this. My initial physical therapy appointment is Monday. I’m reviewing CFS-specific resources, both to inform the PT and to start to track.

My baseline is mediocre-to-fair (for me), between the sprained ankle, the stress of moving, and the ensuing opportunistic infections, including a nagging cough. I’m also wrestling with a new bout of insomnia. I’ve been doing no significant exercise for the last two months with the combination of the above, but still maintaining daily activities, including stairs in the home, chores as tolerated (though I’ve been reprimanded when I pushed beyond that), walking the dog briefly, and light outings.

On CFS/energy scales, my current level is just at the low-end of the “in recovery” zones.

One of the challenges is that hitting the anaerobic threshold, or even spending much time in the aerobic zone, of cardio exercise will frequently result in relapse. So the cardiac rehab I did last year was probably exactly the wrong thing. Some of the recommendations for starting are 3min up / 5min down, repeat. So regular gym-going is also inefficient/possibly harmful.

But the ankle is healing (still splinted), and the other things are coming under control. I’m off of daily caffeine (with intermittent use, because coffee), seldom drink, and never smoke. I do not yet have an HR or activity monitor, and budget is very lean, but I’m looking at options that let you set your own target HR (see previous paragraph).

I’m on moderate doses of B6, B12, and D3, all of which tend to be low and hard to raise in CFS, but haven’t had lab tests on those in some time. It doesn’t help that, at last check, my insurance wouldn’t pay for Vitamin D testing. Though if it’s indicated by CFS, that might help. My diet has been mediocre during the move, but is coming back to where I want it, with more poultry for meats and plenty of produce. My weight and waistline are trending the right direction again.
Advice and (especially) encouragement welcome!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on June 7, 2014 in Health

 
 
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