Well, what can I tell you…

Thank you all for the well-wishes the other day. My collapse was brief, and I’m back on my feet, nearly. I’ll head back to work this week.

I mentioned it in my column in The Seattle Times: mental illness, in my opinion, cannot be cured, only learned to live with. That is the skill I have been working on ever since my suicide attempt. It’s not easy, and for those of you who have known me for a while, you’re probably aware, on some level, that it’s been a struggle my entire adult life. But, it was not until last year’s suicide attempt that I have tackled my condition in earnest.

What I’ve come to learn is, it’s not just the medications. Psychotherapy is just as valuable in healing and recovery, if not more so. It just happens to be much more work, and in our day and age of ‘just give me a pill’ the process of exploring your emotions and how you react to them, and thus perceive the world and yourself in the present, is often seen as too laborious and a time-consuming a process. It’s much easier to find a magic-bullet medication, and just feel great. Well, it doesn’t work that way…

I’ll write about it soon, as it was quite illuminating: my recent, very brief time in Harborview Psychiatric. Wow. It’s not exactly the Disneyland of mental health treatment. I don’t know what they were, but I saw at least one of them flying over the cuckoo’s nest… But that story is for an upcoming post.

But, each time I slip and relapse, it becomes much easier to get back on my feet.

One of the most painful things about depression is the loneliness one might feel. You may have friends and family, but the loneliness persists. You may become bitter, silently, with people who say they are there for you or will reach out to check in on you, but, in a depressed mind’s perception, people never do. Even if they do. You beat yourself up even further, thinking that no one wants to talk to you, because you’re ill, and people find you creepy, or think that depression is contagious. (It kind of can be, but not like a virus. If it was, perhaps there would be a vaccine. That half the country wouldn’t take, because it would turn them into lizards or something…. my freedom!!! I digress…) Whether or not you have people in your life who communicate with you, the illness tricks you into thinking you are incredibly alone, and that no one cares. Which precludes the afflicted form reaching out and asking for help, or mere company. It’s a viscous pattern in the head.

However, sometimes the afflicted is truly alone. I don’t have that misfortune, but many with mental illness do. It adds to the suffering, infecting the wound so that healing becomes even more difficult.

Loneliness can be very debilitating overall. Compounded with depression, or just about any other mental illness, one’s physical health will suffer, as well. The following article is brilliant:

One of the ways people feel the most alone when in a deep depressive episode is the lamentation of being single, of having no romantic partner. That doesn’t always happen with me; I just don’t have the best track record. Being single, for me anyway, is fine right now. And yet, a depressive mind will tell itself that it is alone for a reason: you are ugly, you are unsuccessful, no one would want you, etc. In a rational mind, these thoughts, for most, can be easily dispelled with proper cognition. But there is a small bit of truth here: no one would want to be your romantic partner if you wallow in sadness with a condition that, all too often, is not being properly addressed.

In this day and age, meeting a potential partner can be very difficult. I prefer the old-fashioned way; I see a nice lady, and I go up and talk to her. I have no problem being a dork, I own it. I just act like myself. Suffice it to say, it rarely works. Say, 3 times out of 10, I get a positive response. Those are bad odds. Unless, using proper cognition, you look at it like baseball. In that sport, if a batter gets on base 3 times out of 10, (that is to say: he’s batting .300) those are damn good numbers. So it’s all in how you look at it. It may be distorting the truth, but depression does that already, anyway.

In this ugly new age of Covid, and all the bullshit that has come with it (we don’t have enough time to talk about all that…), it has become even more difficult to meet people. Isolation has reigned for so long, literally and socially. Many people are still afraid, and stick to their tribes or familiar social circles. This, combined with the Information Age, has enabled a new way to meet someone you might like: online dating.

I have very little experience in online dating. I’ll cover more of that in a future piece. But one does not even have to sign up for a dating website; often, people will connect randomly, after a complimentary comment on Facebook or Instagram or something.

However, 11 times out of 10, these random connections on social media tend to be what are known as: scams. Catfisher. The person contacting you will misrepresent themselves, often to trick you out of money (either gift cards, cryptocurrency, or cold hard cash), personal information, or something called What’s-app, a platform where even more information can be extorted.

What follows is a conversation I happened to strike up on Instagram. Recently, I have noticed that impossibly beautiful women, usually 19 year-olds with huge bazingas who have advanced medical degrees and work in refugee camps in Africa or something, will contact me unsolicited. I can spot it immediately. Sometimes it’s fun to toy with them. What follows is an example of one such conversation. I saw this woman, who claimed to be a fashion model (you don’t say!) send me a friend request on Instagram. I thought I might have some fun, and reached out and contacted her. I introduced myself, and she almost instantly said she was single. The conversation we subsequently had is as follows:


She doesn’t bat an eye at ‘tree repairing’….

Rather forward, isn’t she?

She gets right to the point! She’s also not noticing my intentionally poor grammar….

I don’t waste anytime starting the video call! But golly, it doesn’t work!

That number I gave her is the FBI contact line.

I’m just gonna have fun, now…

I’ve just had enough at this point. I’ve got stuff to do.

‘Ok’…. The mother of all comebacks!!!

I dunno…. am I being too harsh?

Well, that was fun. I’ve got a few more that I might post, but I’m writing a lot about my recovery, my bumpy ups and downs, and my recent experience at Harborview. More to come…

Thank you everyone! Take care of yourselves, and each other! Wash your hands! Get vaccinated!

Bye for now,


Cute Animal Stories and Physiology

cat nursing puppies

The link above is a very cutesy video, but it had me reaching for my textbook.

According to this video, the mother cat had recently lost her kindle (I love collective nouns) and was, quite naturally, profoundly depressed. This animal foster family took the cat in, and found the cat to be needy, sad and distressed. It was only after the introduction of a litter of puppies that had lost their mother (what is this, a Disney movie?) that the cat came around.

There is an endocrine gland (that means it makes hormones) in the middle of your brain called the pituitary gland, answering to your CNS by way of the hypothalamus, a bridge between the CNS and the endocrine system. The pituitary gland is often called the master gland, because it does a lot of stuff, probably gets paid more. One of the hormones it secretes is called oxytocin. In mammalian females, oxytocin plays a major role in commanding the body for pregnancy, birth, and nursing. However, in both genders, oxytocin, by the very nature of its primary function, also engenders feelings of attachment, belonging, and intimacy. This cat was flooded with oxytocin, was depressed, and needed attention. When the puppies were introduced, the oxytocin returned to its primary role, and the cat became a surrogate mother. At this time, the cat’s pituitary gland produced another hormone called prolactin, and enabled the animal to nurse the puppies.

I’m not trying to reduce the powerful emotions this cat felt, emotions that would also easily occur in a human being, by explaining it away in technical terms. I’m not trying to take the ‘awww’ out of it. Just two things:

1: It is profoundly interesting that external, emotional events have a direct, physiological impact on how your body functions. Your emotions are very real, can be very strong, and, if you need proof, take a look inside and see the physiological process. If someone tells you to suck it up, if someone shames you for mental illness, if someone tells you to stop feeling a certain way, then they are A) ignorant of how the body works, and B) an asshole. “It’s all in your head!” Well, of course. Everything is. But that’s ontology, for another time.

2: It’s also profoundly interesting that we’re looking at two completely different species here. That’s incredible. That speaks to the strength of the survival instinct, but that’s for another time.

Well, I’m procrastinating again. Gotta hit the books. Wash your hands!