10-8-2014 Top Spinning Day

This week has been incredibly variable- sunny, rainy, cold, really warm, and today it’s been all of the above. The color is coming out, but just now I’m noticing how many of the herbs have passed. Tomorrow I’m heading off for Twilight Covening around noon, and will be taking some herbs with me, because Jane and I are doing “Moose Clan” again- teaching herbalism. I’d like to have taken some jewelweed, but I think it’s passed, although I haven’t noticed a hard frost yet. It’s probably just passed the way plants do- there are daffodils in April and bleeding hearts in May, and even their foliage seems to be gone when the hollyhocks come up in midsummer. But the Nasturtiums are blooming like crazy, bless them! People have pots of colorful mums and pumpkins, so it’s very pretty, when I go out, which I haven’t done much. Luckily I’ll be able to get plenty of mint and wormwood anyway.DSC01563

One of the things I’ve done this week to get ready to leave for TC is to pre-schedule my holiday posts on Live Journal. I like holidays. I think it’s good for people to pause and think about and celebrate the little things in life that make it good (or should be considered and dealt with, like fill-in-the-blank “disease awareness days”). Today, for example has been designated Octopus Day, Fluffernutter Day, Pierogi Day, Tag Day, and Walk or Bike to School or Work Day (International), as well as Top Spinning Day. All of these things are pretty cool, and it makes me feel good to bring them to people’s attention, to remind them how long its been since they’ve spun a top, eaten a Fluffernutter, or a Pierogi, or how cool an octopus is; maybe to consider walking or biking to work.  Sadly, since I’ve done a bunch up ahead of time, I’ve gotten all mixed up in my own head what day it is because I’ve been working on the posts for up to Monday. That also includes Tuesday because I like to include the next day’s holidays as well, in case it’s one of those that says “take your teddybear to work” or “wear blue to support anti-bullying”. If you don’t know beforehand, you may check your facebook at work and say “du-oh! I would have put on my blue shirt if I’d known!”  So while tonight is the Full Hunters Moon, I’ve got all the holidays up to the 13th and 14th running around in my head too, and am having a really hard time figuring out what day it is.
It’s Wednesday. Today I write my letter, tonight I do my talk show (tonight it’s
Raven Kaldera talking about Psychic Vampires, and tomorrow I go to the dump, load the car, and leave. I’ll be back from Twilight Covening Monday- before dark I hope. I’m hoping that this will be restful, I know it will be enjoyable, because I love teaching. AND I’ll be away from the computer.

I haven’t really done much to tell you about this week. To be honest, I’ve been having a brush with depression. I’m not sure whether it’s “situational” depression, or “chemical” depression, or what, because I’m pretty darned sure it’s going to resolve in the next few weeks, so I doubt it’s “chronic”. Frankly, being able to look forward to feeling better is probably the most therapeutic part of the situation.   It’s almost certainly stress related, and if not due to adrenal fatigue, something similar. Kat has had a really awful year, and simply providing support for her has used up almost all my inner resources, and left me exhausted.
The last straw was taking her over to talk to the Police Chief last week, because when he showed up at our house last week his behavior was really stressful. Ferguson is no longer in the news, and we are pretty darned white, but he still did that thing where cops put their hand just behind their gun and then tip their hip toward you to show “I’m the guy with the gun!” (subtext, so I’m in charge and you have to do whatever I say- which he also actually said, if not in so many words). This is NOT designed to reduce stress in ANY situation! So, like a good consumer and citizen, she went over to give him feedback so maybe he’ll do better next time.  I’m sure that he thought he was behaving appropriately (and he certainly said so, but I figure I’d probably be pretty defensive myself if someone was criticizing how I was doing my job). He did say he’d work on his body language, and that’s probably as good as we were going to get.
I also had the extra challenge of keeping my mouth shut because it was Kat’s project and I do tend to jump in, and talk faster and often over other people. So I kept reminding myself to let her do the talking. I find that often when I’ve talked to the government or medical people or anyone and had to be reasonable and calm, as soon as I put down the phone I burst into tears. It’s the release of tension that tends to result in breaking down for me, and we’ve been dealing with medical garbage too much this year.
It’s not particularly horrible that the doctor thinks I’m Kat’s grandmother, and Willow is her mother, but when they get major things wrong, it’s really frustrating, especially when they have so many things set in place to protect themselves. And they are NOT set up for our convenience! Just today I was struck by the juxtaposition of two things- we called and were reminded that we had to call back after the lunch hour. The “answering service” does not take messages, it only tells you to “call 911 if it’s an emergency”, otherwise call back after lunch. What the heck?! They can’t take a message? The office can’t stagger the dozen or so staff so that someone who CAN take a message is on? This was made more frustrating because today we got TWO pieces of Junk Mail from them telling us that “they are there for us 24/7.” Sure, someone to tell you to call someone else is there. Ridiculous! I am reminded of when the head nurse explained to me that sometimes we had to ring for the nurse for 45 minutes before someone answered because the nurses were told that they mustn’t use the intercom because patients complained about that, it was more personal to have the nurse come in. Well, since there are situations where you’re calling because something dangerous is going on, and he could have been dead for 40 minutes before the nurse came to check, I have a very low opinion of a medical system that is run according to rules made up according to patient satisfaction surveys!
Anyway, I got to the point where I didn’t want to check my email or fb because there would probably be something reminding me of something I should be doing (mostly for the conference), I was so weak that it was hard to cook with my cast iron pots, and I’d choke on my own spit, my concentration and retention were shot, and I felt like crying most of the the time, I don’t think I need a medical degree to say I was depressed. I spent three days either in bed reading or doing other things that were self soothing, (like doing internet searches to see if a given holiday was real or made up). Actually, Depression Screening Day is tomorrow, and I did an online screening, for what it’s worth (every penny I paid for it!) and yes, I’m depressed. Duh. I felt better Monday, although that only lasted a few hours, and I started getting caught up on the stuff I’d been ducking. I felt good a bit longer yesterday, and again today, although I am hoping to be able to go to bed early again.  Sleep, good food, low stress, that’s what I need. I just keep thinking that if I didn’t have the certainty that I’d feel better soon how awful that would be. The idea that you could keep feeling like this for months or years is pretty hellacious. I am SO grateful for my support system! The kids have been as supportive as they could be (Willow’s been helping me collect the stuff to pack for TC, John’s been doing any heavy lifting, extra chores, and Kat’s giving me extra hugs.) Also Cathy has been calling both with words of encouragement, and helping make sure the conference doesn’t crash while I’m “offline”.
I really hated the parts where my brain would turn on and off again. I kept wondering “is this what it’s like for everyone else?”, to try to understand something and fail- not fun! No wonder they let other people think for them. And when you think about the many people who spend their lives undernourished, overstressed, etc. no wonder it’s the rich (read, better fed, safer, and with more free time) who generally are the intellectual achievers. The poor are probably burnt out. Who knows what they could do if they were safe and fed? The problem of course, is that when you’re sad (scared, etc.) your brain makes chemicals that tend to make you feel depressed, so you feel that way, so you see the world through that filter, which makes your brain/body produce those chemicals, etc. etc. a really awful feedback loop! As I understand adrenal fatigue, when you get upset about something, adrenaline is pumped in to give your body that extra boost for “fight or flight”, but while that’s great for occasional stress, constant stress can both use up the available adrenaline and “get the mechanism stuck in the on position”, so there’s never a point where you can build up the reserves again. It’s like trying to fill an empty tank… with the drain plug is out, and even if you can plug it, it’s going to be a long while before it’s full enough to register as “low” much less “full”.
I know that drugs are available- but would far rather use nutritional supplements. Sadly, those only work when you know what’s low. It’s like baking a cake and you know there’s an ingredient missing. It doesn’t matter if you keep pouring in sugar or butter, when the problem is that you haven’t got enough baking powder. Provide the right missing ingredient/nutrient and the results are nearly magical. (Like when the multivitamins drops would cure Ælfwine’s hallucinations- for two hours. His “ICU psychosis” symptoms were the result of being totally depleted of B vitamins (producing many of the symptoms of Pellagra) because many of the drugs he was getting were B antagonists, also, we can admit that he was under a lot of stresses.) It’s amazing when it works, but if you don’t have the right one, it does nothing. Still, most vitamins are a lot safer than many of the medicines out there, especially if they are messing with your endocrine system.
By and large, I think that if you’re unhappy about or scared of something, you probably have good reason to be. If you have examined the problem well and hard and decided that there’s no reason to be miserable but you are, then you’re probably screwed up chemically and should get help with that. If you’ve got a problem like you need more money or you’re married to a jerk, that’s what you need to fix, not that being in that situation makes you feel badly. You’re supposed to feel badly when you’re being treated badly, that’s supposed to help you get out of the situation. Of course, we have a LOT of situations in the world where recognizing that there’s a problem wont help because you can’t do anything about it, for example, if you were hurt in the past so that you flinch at things that aren’t a threat now, you can’t do anything about the jackass who hurt you in the past, you only have to work with trying to change the current behavior so the damage doesn’t continue and spread any further than it already has.
I am stressed because a, I’m watching my daughter be depressed and I can’t help, and b, because I’ve done everything I can think of to get people to this con, and we’re still not getting enough people in to break even. I keep having dreams about driving a car that won’t respond to the wheels and pedals. Cars tend to represent your life in dreams, and I am afraid that in this case, it’s what my subconscious is trying to tell me. Feeling helpless is one of the worst things for humans.
But enough of that! I’m getting better, so time to move on!

I think I mentioned last week my niece Meg had some brain surgery- she is doing great. Our friend Steve went down to Atlanta and spent the holidays with his sister’s family; we fed his cats for him. Willow is getting ready for Another Anime Con. We picked up about 40 yards of fleece and she’s been making a blanket a day (two today, I think). Kat’s helping with backing the blankets- although she got a cramp in her back, and had to slow down with that. Willow started this project with 15 blankets ready to be backed. She puts them up on Etsy, but mostly sells them at cons.

The girls are also participating in “Inktober”, an artists challenge to do an ink drawing every day of October and post it. (It reminds me of the November writing challenge)  Willow’s putting hers on facebook (today she did some impressionistic colored landscapes- the other day an interesting mood piece with a gravestone and a hornets nest. Kat is into detail and did an amazing hanging bat the other day, but I can’t find where she’s posting hers.

I did read a fair bit while I “cocooned”- I finished Sabriel, which was good, and I should be getting the next in the series from the library soon. (Sadly, when one is depressed, if the idea of going up the stairs is daunting, and chewing isn’t worth the effort, going out to the library is out of the question, even when movie late fees are a dollar a day, and I wracked up a nasty fine!) I re-read Prachett’s Monstrous Regiment, I finished LeCouteau’s Secret Life of Vampires; I was fascinated by the various accounts from all over Europe, but left wondering why vampires would chew or eat their shrouds, and many other unresolved issues. (OMG, John loaned me the copy of the 7 Golden Vampires movie he took out. Dracula in China- with martial arts! Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Mid 70s. Willow heard that and said “there will be boobs”- and she was right. It was really funny!) I want to go back and re-examine the evidence about the diseases that contributed to the resurgence of the vampire legends in the modern period. I’m sure there was something, but can’t remember it. I read several more articles in the Charmed, Charmers and Charming collection. On the one hand, I get the importance of seeing what you can learn about a group of bits of folk lore by figuring out the genders, ages, and locations of the informants, but on the other, I think I’m more interested in how the charms worked than what modern people think they can tell about the minds of the people who were using them. I read Gathering Blue, and about halfway through realized that it was written by the author of The Giver, so I spent the rest of the book waiting for everything to go distopian and depressing. It didn’t, so that was good, but I wish I hadn’t recognized the author.DSC01564

We’ve switched out the summer plates to a fall set and brought down the fall tablecloths. Fitch’s has apple cider again, which is good. I’m baking a bit, made a blackberry cake for Michelmas. I was amused by the shadow of the camera on the cake when I went to get a picture of it.DSC01565 It’s finally cool enough to start burning off extra paper in the woodstove, but not enough to get a fire going yet.

That’s about it. Sorry to be such a downer, but these things happen some time, and I figure it’s better to be honest about it.

There was a great phrase from Pratchett I caught this week: “as useful as a chocolate helmet”. Isn’t that a great one?

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