Meditation Haiku

Thoughts race, breathing deep

quiet mind, distracting sounds

sitting meditation

My new neighbor is very knowledgeable about Buddhism and he has been holding small gatherings of people wanting to learn and share their experiences.  We always have a 20 minute meditation.  I always thought the idea of meditation was to silence your mind, stop your thoughts from bouncing like a super-ball in your head.  Tonight F said he feels you should just allow your mind to roam freely.  You recognize each thought as it comes and then you let yourself move on.  What do you think meditation should accomplish?  Is it to calm your mind, slow down your thoughts?  Or is it an opportunity to let your mind run without having to act on anything your mind comes up with? 

I’ve prepared a short list of places I want to check out tomorrow.  There’s a yoga studio that sounds interesting, two Buddhist temples, and a martial arts dojo.  I hope to decide tomorrow which type of class I want to take.  The yoga is apparently a ‘new’ form created by a man named Mic Ja and sounds really interesting.  Then there’s the part of me that wants to take up kung fu or karate, or even boxing or some sort of MMA training, but I’m really intimidated.  I don’t expect to start a professional fighting career, but I’m not sure I can do something like this at my age.  I want to think I can, but I’m trying to be realistic here.  I don’t want to go into one of these places and get laughed at.  Though on second thought, I suppose they wouldn’t, because no matter what they think about my abilities (or lack thereof) they still want my money.  So I’ve got that going for me.  mma

So I hope to decide what classes I want to take, and whether I want to take up yoga and karate, or just one for now.  At least I’m finally getting motivated.

Depression

My son is currently experiencing one of his worst depression episodes I’ve ever seen.  The worst part is, I can’t help him.  It appears he is headed to completely alienate the family by taking out his anger and frustration on us.  I understand he can’t control how he is feeling right now.  I understand the pain he is in.  I can’t understand why he refuses all offers of help, except he sees it as pointless.  “No one will help me,” he says.  He goes to Urgent Care or the ER every few months, only to complain about his physical pain, and of course, no one is going to give him a 30 day supply of percocet or oxycodone, so he says no one helps him.  That no one cares.  Except we do care!  How do I make him understand how badly he needs help.  Professional help that we will pay for.  He doesn’t want that.  Doesn’t feel it will make a difference.  He just can’t see past his depression.pills

Very unfortunately his depression is often manifested by anger directed at others.  Angry words, accusations and complaints, that’s all we hear.  It makes it especially hard to want to help him when he’s yelling at you.  He just won’t hear us.  Any time we tell him he should get professional help, we get the argument that no one cares, no doctor will help him because they all think he’s just some drug addict.  Yes, he is a drug addict, but like most of them, he is altering his mood with drugs and alcohol.  I get that.  I wouldn’t even care at this point, but he can’t maintain a steady dosage.  He keeps adding to his ‘dosage’ to kill all his pain, only adding to his problems.

ERHe can’t see that we love him and want to help him.  He is angry we moved (again).  He says he hates it here.  How does he know he hates it when he won’t go out and experience the city?  It’s not this place he hates, but his life.  He says that a lot, that he hates his life.  Apparently he thinks he was happy in Westlake Village.  Of course, we know he hasn’t been himself since his grandpa died 1 1/2 years ago.  It’s a long time to be dealing with his many ups and downs.

For him, he also has the added disadvantage of being uninsured.  Obama Care denied him and referred him to Medicare, which in turn denied him and sent him back to Obamacare.  A true sign (to him) that the world has conspired against him.  We did try to rectify things and get him covered, but he refused to do any of the work himself and at the time, I was disinclined to do it for him.  After all, he’s a grown man and needs to take care of himself.  Except he can’t.  I totally realize that now.  I will look into getting him insured today.suicide hotline

The helplessness and frustration is taking a toll on the family.  We have to do something.  We can’t continue to live like this!  Cross your fingers I can finally get him insured and once insured, he will seek medical help.

 

 

 

RIP Robin Williams

I still can’t believe it’s true.  I’ve been watching old clips of Robin Williams for the past two days.  I had no idea his Depression was that severe.  I mean, I thought he’d be in therapy and under medication, and therefore be ok.  One thing that really makes me angry about his death is the stupid statements people make about what a “selfish” or “stupid” thing for him to do.  Clearly people who make such comments about a suicide have no idea what they are talking about.  I did come across the following article that I thought says it quite well, so I thought I would share.

Robin Williams’s death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish

Robin Williams in Man of the Year (2006)
Many words can be used to describe Robin Williams. ‘Selfish’ should not be one of them. Photograph: Allstar/Universal PicturesSportsphoto Ltd.

News broke today that Robin Williams had passed away, due to apparent suicide following severe depression. As the vast majority of people will likely have already said, this was terribly heart-breaking news. Such an iconic, talented and beloved figure will have no shortage of tributes paid to him and his incredible legacy. It’s also worth noting that Robin Williams was open about his mental health issues.

However, despite the tremendous amount of love and admiration for Williams being expressed pretty much everywhere right now, there are still those who can’t seem to resist the opportunity to criticise, as they do these days whenever a celebrated or successful person commits suicide. You may have come across this yourself; people who refer to the suicide as “selfish”. People will utter/post phrases such as “to do that to your family is just selfish”, or “to commit suicide when you’ve got so much going for you is pure selfishness”, or variations thereof.

If you are such a person who has expressed these views or similar for whatever reason, here’s why you’re wrong, or at the very least misinformed, and could be doing more harm in the long run.

Depression IS an illness

Depression, the clinical condition, could really use a different name. At present, the word “depressed” can be applied to both people who are a bit miserable and those with a genuine debilitating mood disorder. Ergo, it seems people are often very quick to dismiss depression as a minor, trivial concern. After all, everyone gets depressed now and again, don’t they? Don’t know why these people are complaining so much.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; dismissing the concerns of a genuine depression sufferer on the grounds that you’ve been miserable and got over it is like dismissing the issues faced by someone who’s had to have their arm amputated because you once had a paper cut and it didn’t bother you. Depression is a genuine debilitating condition, and being in “a bit of a funk” isn’t. The fact that mental illness doesn’t receive the same sympathy/acknowledgement as physical illness is often referenced, and it’s a valid point. If you haven’t had it, you don’t have the right to dismiss those who have/do. You may disagree, and that’s your prerogative, but there are decades’ worth of evidence saying you’re wrong.

Depression doesn’t discriminate

How, many seem to wonder, could someone with so much going for them, possibly feel depressed to the point of suicide? With all the money/fame/family/success they have, to be depressed makes no sense?

Admittedly, there’s a certain amount of logic to this. But, and this is important, depression (like all mental illnesses) typically doesn’t take personal factors into account. Mental illness can affect anyone. We’ve all heard of the “madness” of King George III; if mental illness won’t spare someone who, at the time, was one of the most powerful well-bred humans alive, why would it spare someone just because they have a film career?

Granted, those with worse lives are probably going to be exposed to the greater number of risk factors for depression, but that doesn’t mean those with reduced likelihood of exposure to hardships or tragic events are immune. Smoking may be a major cause of lung cancer, but non-smokers can end up with it. And a person’s lifestyle doesn’t automatically reduce their suffering. Depression doesn’t work like that. And even if it did, where’s the cut-off point? Who would we consider “too successful” to be ill?

Depression is not ‘logical’

If we’re being optimistic, it could be said that most of those describing suicide from depression as selfish are doing so from a position of ignorance. Perhaps they think that those with depression make some sort of table or chart with the pros and cons of suicide and, despite the pros being far more numerous, selfishly opt for suicide anyway?

This is, of course, nonsensical. One of the main problems with mental illness is that is prevents you from behaving or thinking “normally” (although what that means is a discussion for another time). A depression sufferer is not thinking like a non-sufferer in the same way that someone who’s drowning is not “breathing air” like a person on land is. The situation is different. From the sufferers perspective, their self-worth may be so low, their outlook so bleak, that their families/friends/fans would be a lot better off without them in the world, ergo their suicide is actually intended as an act of generosity? Some might find such a conclusion an offensive assumption, but it is no more so than accusations of selfishness.

The “selfish” accusation also often implies that there are other options the sufferer has, but has chosen suicide. Or that it’s the “easy way out”. There are many ways to describe the sort of suffering that overrides a survival instinct that has evolved over millions of years, but “easy” isn’t an obvious one to go for. Perhaps none of it makes sense from a logical perspective, but insisting on logical thinking from someone in the grips of a mental illness is like insisting that someone with a broken leg walks normally; logically, you shouldn’t do that.

Stephen Fry, in his interview on Richard Herring’s podcast, had a brilliant explanation about how depression doesn’t make you think logically, or automatically confide in friends and family. I won’t spoil it by revealing it here, but I will say it involves genital warts.

Accusations of selfishness are themselves selfish?

Say you don’t agree with any of the above, that you still maintain that for someone with a successful career and family to commit suicide is selfish. Fine. Your opinion, you’re entitled to have it, however much we may disagree.

But why would you want to publicly declare that the recently deceased is selfish? Especially when the news has only just broken, and people are clearly sad about the whole thing? Why is getting in to criticise the deceased when they’ve only just passed so important to you? What service are you providing by doing so, that makes you so justified in throwing accusations of selfishness around?

Do you think that depression is “fashionable?” And by criticising the sufferers you can deter others from “joining in”? Granted, we hear more about depression than we used to these days, but then we know what it is now. We see a lot more photos from Mars these days, because we have the means of doing so now, not because it’s suddenly trendy.

Perhaps you are trying to deter anyone else who might read your views from considering suicide themselves? Given that statistics suggest that one in four people suffer some sort of mental health problem, this isn’t that unlikely an occurrence. But if someone is genuinely depressed and feels their life is worthless, seeing that others consider their feeling selfish can surely only emphasise their own self-loathing and bleakness? It suggests that people will hate them even in death.

Maybe you know some people who have “attempted” suicide purely for attention? Fair enough; a debatable conclusion, but even if you’re right, so what? Surely someone who succeeds at committing suicide is a genuine sufferer who deserves our sympathy?

Perhaps you feel that those expressing sorrow and sadness are wrong and you need to show them that you know better, no matter how upsetting they may find it? And this is unselfish behaviour how, exactly?

A brilliant but tortured individual has taken his own life, and this is a tragedy. But levelling ignorant accusations of selfishness certainly won’t prevent this from happening again. People should never be made to feel worse for suffering from something beyond their control.

If you feel you are dealing with depression, the charity MIND has many helpful sources, but there are many other avenues you can pursue

Dean Burnett is on Twitter, @garwboy

A New Chapter

I have not been inclined to blog lately and it makes me feel guilty.  I haven’t checked in with my favorite blogs in days.  There’s so many people to catch up with, but some of them are also taking a hiatus, and one of my favorite blogs seems to have disappeared altogether, or at least become inaccessible.  And to top it off, WordPress has snuck in a bunch of changes.lonely

I feel, as have many before me, that I may be done blogging, at least for now.  But the relationships I’ve made have been very important to me.  So many people here helped me make changes these last 2 years or so.  Why stop blogging?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  It just seems I don’t need to anymore.  The connections I’ve made here were so vital to me for so long, now seem more tentative and distant. 

I feel as if I’m closing a chapter in my life and wonder if that means I close the door on the friendships I have made?  Do people come into our lives only to teach us and move on?  Has my need for friends lessened?  Perhaps I’ve just become more interested and involved with the “real” world.  But I feel an obligation here.

thU5O54C3II feel as if I am leaving a job where I’ve made lots of friends.  Exchanging phone numbers and promising to stay in touch, except you know it doesn’t work that way.  You stay in touch for a bit, sending emails, and passing on jokes, but it just doesn’t last.  At least for me it hasn’t. 

Maybe I’m saying good bye here, but I don’t think so.  Maybe I’ve moved to a place where I don’t need to blog anymore.  But there are so many stories out there that I want to know the ending of.  And then there’s the guilt.  I need to know what’s happening in my friends’ lives.  I hope they need me as well.  I may not be as active on WP as before, but I’m still here.  I want to keep in touch with the many fine people here.

Changes

Doing my best to avoid falling into old habits, so that means a lot less time on the computer.  We haven’t fallen into anything like a schedule yet.  Not sure if that’s good or bad.  People seem to need routine and without it I feel a little off balance.  Like I need an anchor.    Been going to my neighbor’s on Wednesday nights to talk Buddhism with him and some of his friends.  That’s been interesting so far.

tai chi3Still haven’t decided on Tai Chi, Yoga or some martial art.  There is an interesting yoga studio a few miles away which promises to be interesting.  I plan to check it out tomorrow and maybe sign up for a month of classes to see how I like it.  For the most part I’m only finding gyms where classes are offered.  I don’t want to join a gym like 24-hour Fitness, but join something like a Dojo.  I’m sure I’ll find something.

I’ve gotten most of my doctor visits dealt with.  Saw a GP and she seems fine, and a psychiatrist that got my meds straight, though we decided to leave my antidepressants at the lower dosage.  My new GP has referred me to a neurologist and an orthopedist.  I have to check and see if they are on my insurance plan and make appointments.  So I’ve got things moving health-wise.  Today I saw a therapist.  I like her and will see her again next week. She gave me a couple of assignments:  write a sentence a day about something I am grateful for–not, and write down the funniest thing that ever happened to me.  That’s not going to be easy.  I can’t think of anything.  I’ll have to review some journals, see if I can find something.Kayak

Not having a routine is a bit weird, but Husband and I come and go any time of day or night.  We’ll walk around downtown or one of the other hip places with shops and bars.  Last night we finally took out the kayak and put it in the bay.  We were only out a short time, but we had fun and weren’t too tired.  This morning though, I was surprisingly sore!  I look forward to going again later this week.

Husband has been out on his bike nearly every day and feeling good about it, though I don’t know how he does it.  Riding a bike for 1/2 hr hurts my tailbone and he is taking 2 hour rides.  He is really enjoying it.  He still wants to get a stand up paddle board, but feels guilty about spending so much money on himself what with the bike and the kayak (though the whole family can enjoy the kayak), he wants me to go out and bikesbuy something expensive.  I don’t really have anything in mind, but maybe I’ll just translate an equal amount of money toward a martial arts class for six months or so.

Son has been looking diligently for a job and finally has an interview tomorrow.  He’s hoping to get the job.  The money wouldn’t be great, but he figures it could open the door to something better, though if this job was to offer health insurance, he would be most thrilled.  As would we all.

Getting Settled

We’ve been in the new place about a month now.  Our neighbors are all very friendly, and don’t seem to mind the yipping dogs too much. Walking the dogs around the neighborhood, I’m learning my way around.  I know where to shop and what shops I can walk to.  It’s starting to feel like home.

Numerous decisions await us:  stand up board (SUB) or kayak?  And where to take a little weekend away?  And do we put in a Zen garden? or grass?  Where will Son live?  Can he stay sober?  But that’s not living in the moment, is it?  It’s easy to fall into old habits, though Husband and I are trying not to.  We are trying to be more social, and trying new things, like going out to a club, or eating Thai (or some other equally exotic food).  We’re starting to push each other a little more out of our comfort zone.  Husband says buying the kayak/SUB feels so selfish.  I think that’s a good thing.  He’s never expressed feeling selfish before, though he (and I) deny him nothing.paddle board

It’s so easy to fall back into old ways of thinking, but I am still able to pull myself out.  I haven’t decided on visiting a Buddhist temple/center to visit yet, so I’m feeling less centered.  I wanted to talk to our neighbor, who is also interested in Buddhism, maybe he’d recommend one?  Meanwhile, I have postponed setting up doctor visits and I have been without some of my meds for weeks, and will be out of my antidepressants soon. I can’t let myself postpone these appointments any more.  I don’t know what would happen without my antidepressants, and I’m not keen to find out.

Doobie

Doobie

Our house abuts a community garden, which we thought would be a good thing.  We figured that with all that huge garden, nothing was going to bother our little garden.  We were wrong.  We’ve seen so far, two huge racoons, countless squirrels, rabbits, hawks, and one skunk.  Our dog Doobie discovered the skunk.  Whew!  What a smell.  A cross between burned hair and boiled peanuts.  Something the poor dog got so close the fur on his face was green.  We’d gone through it with our last dog, and that was the middle of the night, we let the dog in and he brought the stench with him.  Right onto our bed!  At least this time we were able to easily bathe the little dope and cover him in a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.  Also have dishes of vinegar in each room, and burned scented candles all afternoon.  My eyes still burn.

Still Among the Living

Pretty much moved in now. Things did not quit transpire as anticipated, but, of course, worked out just the same.  We’re still making two more trips to the house to get some forgotten items, organize the donations and the junk to haul away.  Make sure that water and power are off.  Plus we still have our old computers to get rid of.  There’s a place near the house that recycles computers and related items. kitchen

Son ended up with us after all, but it is definitely temporary.  We only bought a tiny dinette set with only two chairs.  We’ve got a loveseat, not a couch.  Only one bathroom.  So this can only last a couple months.  Now that we finally have internet (been cut off from the World  since June 11!) son has started to look for work.  Luckily, they are hiring at two good local companies right now.  I looked at apartments and found a few suitable with suitable rental rates.  Maybe we should wait until he’s employed?  Or would it be better to provide the incentive to work now?LB

We’re still sorting through boxes three and four times, and have enough cardboard for an entire cardboard “tent” city.  It will take us months to dispose of it all through the recycling.  Then yesterday, one of our recycling bins didn’t get dumped, and the neighbor’s recycling bin didn’t return from the street yesterday.  I think it’s one I see across the street.  How it got there, and if it is ours, is still a bit of a mystery.  But one I can live with.  I checked the other nearest neighbors and they don’t seem to have an extra bin, so I think odds are good it belongs over here.  Otherwise what do I do?  Call the city and tell them our recycling bin went missing?

Working hard to landscape the little back yard.  We’re about halfway done.  We’ve got the flower beds planted, just need to put in a low deck or patio and some stepping stones, and we’ll be done.  Hopefully, we will be in a position to invite our neighbors and Husband’s friends over for 4th of July barbeque.  Tonight we’ve been invited out to meet some of Husband’s friends for drinks. blues I think I’d like to say no (we’re not meeting them until 9:00 PM), but this move is a lot about doing new things, so I told Husband we should go.  We don’t have to stay very long.  We can tell everyone we’are tired, and truthfully we are tired after working in the yard and the garage all day.  Did I mention we live above a garage now?  That means up and down the stairs a minimum of 3 times a day, and lately it’s closer to 10-15 times a day!  I better lose some weight now!

I still need to spend some time setting up appointments for my various new doctors, but I will be catching up with everyone soon.  I am eager to hear what people have been up to this past week or so

It Never Ends

Busted Son–again–for drugs a couple days ago.  Told him he needs rehab.  Well he quit taking the Xanax and now is suffering withdrawals.  pillsIt’s terrible to watch.  So far the physical aspect isn’t too bad; his whole body just aches.  But the mental aspect is most troubling.  He is angry (at himself) and depresses about his life.  The worst part is being unable to help him see the positives in his life.  Pulling someone out of depression is like pulling your feet out of thick, stinking mud.  I can only tell him it will get better, that we are here for him, that we will help him through this.  I truly believe he needs professional counseling, though, of course, he refuses to try that.  I told him a 30-day in-patient rehab would be best for him, but he’s afraid of what his ex would say or do if she knew, and how do you handle 30 days of no contact?  How could we keep the truth from her? Son fears she would use this as an excuse to take his son away from him.  Not that we would ever allow that.

He is having a tough time with the move.  His son will be living at his ex’s during the week and going to school in her neighborhood.  He’s afraid of losing his son.  Of course, he knows taking drugs is no way to ensure that he keeps possession of his son, but he started out taking Xanax just to help with the depression about the whole situation.  With this move, though, we will only be about 20 minutes away, whereas now it’s easily 1 1/2 hour drive to his ex’s.  Plus, he deserves some “me” time.  I would love it if he could live on his own, find a girlfriend, make other friends.  Have a full life, instead of hiding at home, living minute to minute only for his son, doing nothing to help himself.

heartI know Son also fears that Grandson will get into trouble at his new school with the wrong friends.  Grandson has three cousins, two of whom are in constant trouble with the police due to drugs.  He’s afraid now that his son will be closer in proximity to them and get pulled into that world.  His oldest cousin is about 15 and has been in juvenile detention more than once.  Does not attend school, and is in serious trouble of becoming lost to us.  His other two cousins have been in trouble, mostly for smoking pot and skipping school, but one is following his older brother’s example and can’t seem to stay out of trouble.  It’s so sad to see this happening.  Of course, we have no influence over the cousins, and Son’s ex insists their son will be kept away from his cousins, but it does little to relieve my son’s mind.

I am still looking forward to this move.  We should be living there by next week.  Son and Grandson have a few days of school next week, and will join us next Thursday.  I wish it didn’t scare Son so much.  Grandson is thrilled with the move.  He knows how close he will be to his dad, and that means so much to him.  There are many more employment options for Son and he’s assured a quick commute.  He will be able to meet people his own age.  All he has to do to meet people is take his adorable puppy on a walk.  That dog is a major chick magnet!

Doobie

Doobie

We’re hopeful that once the withdrawal is over, and we are all settled in the new place, Son will return to his normal self.  All the stress of the move, and the end of the school year, and Grandson moving in with his mother will all be settled.  A new chapter in our lives will begin and Son will find it to be a positive change.

Hope is all I have at this point, and I am grateful to have that.  I am not crying about this latest set-back, and instead continue to look forward, knowing we will pull through this, as we have before.  Perhaps Son will finally banish his demons and be able to stay sober.  In the event he does not, we will insist on rehab, and then a halfway house.  Which I would prefer he do anyway.  There is a service I found which will help you find the right center and the proper help our son needs.  Unfortunately, they returned my call, but we were out.  I haven’t had a chance to call them back, but I suppose it’s really something Son should do for himself.

 

Yet Another One

Most appalling thing I’ve ever seen.  Police violence in the US is truly out of control.  A Manteca, California officer kills a man, Ernesto Duenez, Jr., in his front yard.  I’ve attached the graphic video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhnY17F_eiQ) if you’d like to see the dash-cam video from Officer Moody’s car.  I will warn you, it is violent, graphic and shocking.

I didn’t know anything about this incident before I saw the video.  It certainly seems as if the cop was waiting for the victim, but there was no indication from the video that he was dangerous.  Even assuming Duenez was dangerous, I believe the shooting was completely unwarranted.  Of course, the police department believed otherwise and cleared Officer Moody of any wrongdoing.   According to the police Duenez was armed and dangerous and wanted in connection with  a domestic violence incident earlier in the day.  The cops say he was a known gang member and Moody claims he brandished a knife as he exited the truck.  It looks to me like he was simply trying to get out of the truck as ordered.  Less than 5 seconds pass from the time the cop jumps out of his car and Duenez being shot.  Hardly enough time for him to make a threatening move toward the officer.  You can see Duenez (after being shot 11 times) appears to be dead, yet when additional cops arrive on scene, they roll him over and handcuff him.  Not once do the police check the man for a pulse.  Some  minutes pass before one of the officers asks about calling paramedics, and another minute or more before someone requests a life-saving kit be brought to him.   By the time paramedics begin CPR (interrupted at least once by the cops as they continue to search through Duenez’ clothing) he is clearly dead, though CPR continues until he is put on a gurney and moves out of the frame.

On the silver-lining side, the family did win the wrongful death suit, receiving $2.2 million.  Still, it doesn’t really help the family.  I’m sure they would prefer to have their husband/father/brother/son rather than money.  I’m sure they would prefer that Officer Moody was in jail, or at least that he was no longer a cop.  I don’t want a cop like that protecting me!

I’m curious though.  What do you think?  Are US cops out of control with their use of deadly force?

 

For more info on this case, here are a couple more links.

http://rt.com/usa/man-duenez-shooting-video-012/

 

http://www.news10.net/story/news/local/manteca/2014/04/08/manteca-officer-involved-duenez-shooting-lawsuit-settlement/7469941/

 

Justice For Ernest Duenez Jr.