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Thoughts on…stuff

February 1, 2020

Depression

I have mentioned before that I am dealing with depression. That doesn’t make me special. Maybe that was part of the problem. I am both a registered nurse and a retired Navy officer. Both of those professions come with expectations, not only of others, but more importantly of oneself. Nurses, for instance, don’t get sick. Navy officers can deal with anything. Neither of those are true, although they are both driven by at least one similar philosophy. To wit, that there are relatively few people actually qualified to successfully take on the responsibility of being a (insert either of the two). Further, that the profession demands a degree of excellence and a degree of commitment of which most people are not capable and to which they can never even hope to aspire. Now, there is some truth to both of those. Most people will not be nurses and most are not even inclined to try. Likewise, most people will not be Navy officers or senior enlisted Navy personnel (I’ve not met many people I think would have made good chiefs. They just aren’t that common). Most people, in fact, will never be in the military. The upside of this is that those who wind up in one of these two (or similar) professions, and who are successful in them, are willing to push themselves to meet the expectations of their profession. The downside is that there is a tendency, when something is causing problems or “issues,” to view asking for help or assistance as a sign of weakness. Weakness, when one is in a profession that views itself (sometimes rightfully so) as special or as requiring more than most people can or will give, is the kiss of death. More than one person has made allusions to sharks and “blood in the water.” And maybe that’s how it has to be. In some ways, it is the professional expectation that helps us keep going when all we really want to do is quit, even if quitting consists of no more than lying down and sleeping for more than 45 minutes or so at a time for days on end (I’ll be the first to admit that once I’ve been awake for much over about 50 hours, I get more than a little, uh, “goofy”). The downside, though, is that we also tend to ignore our own warning signs.

It has been said there is a stigma attached to mental illness and that is true. I have counseled a lot of people to get the help they need regardless of the stigma because otherwise things were simply not going to get better. “Take the meds,” I said, “because without them the chances of things getting better, especially in the long term, are so much lower.” Fortunately, many of those people followed my advice. Sadly, a few did not. Which brings me to some words spoken long ago by One far wiser than I. “Physician, heal thyself” (it really has nothing to do with physicians). Yeah. Fine. Be that way. Several months ago I finally broke down and went to see a mental health professional, because all the things I was trying (and had been trying for perhaps 20 years or so, including the very popular “tough it out” approach) just weren’t working. Thus, “major depressive disorder.” Yay, me. “Let’s try Effexor XR.” Well, crap. I am, I have discovered, an even worse patient than I thought. I have also discovered something else. Effexor XR is my friend. It’s not a magic pill. It doesn’t erase bad habits that developed over two or more decades. What it (and other anti-depressants) can do, is help someone be able to make decisions about what they’re going to do, unburdened by the cloud of depression and all the dysfunctional behaviors that can go with it.

TL;DR version: If you have been diagnosed with depression, take the pills!

Politics

I am an equal opportunity abuser of politicians. They are, regardless of where they fall upon the American political spectrum (we have an odd definition of “right” and “left”) a vile, parasitic species of subhuman who can be trusted only to subvert the will of the electorate whenever they can. Their pursuit is not money but power and they will do anything they can to hold on to it once they have it. If you are a Democrat/Republican/Socialist/Green party person, then yes, I am talking about your candidates and current office holders.

Impeachment

You may consider this a subset of politics, but it has been enough of an issue for long enough to deserve its own heading. I am not going to talk about whether Donald Trump should or should not have been impeached. Nor am I going to discuss whether he should or should not be convicted in the Senate trial. Instead, I’m going to offer an observation. If

  1. Donald Trump is acquitted (as seems almost certain), and if
  2. Donald Trump is reelected (unseating a sitting president is challenging),

then the real winner will be Mitch McConnell. I mean “real winner” in the sense that he will likely go down in history as one of the most significant, powerful and influential US Senators in history.

Gun control

This one sort of ties into my thoughts on depression. In all my years of struggling with undiagnosed depression (and since I’ve been on an antidepressant) I have never attempted or even contemplated harming myself or others. Please bear that in mind when I note that as regards further efforts at gun control, should one or more such measures be enacted into law, I will not comply.

Barbecue

I decided to include something far more controversial, far more likely to lead to discord and the dissolution of longstanding friendships than any of the above.

I’ve had the pleasure of living in some of the great barbecue regions of the United States. Each of them have some wonderful barbecue. With that said, after due consideration I have come a conclusion as which is the “best.”

Beef brisket: Texas

Pork: Southeastern North Carolina

Let the bloodletting begin!

 

 

 

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