The Quarantine Month 1: How I feel…

It has been over a month since I have worked. (RIP my job at Bandago 8 1/2 years.)  That last day, Sunday March 15th, I had an eerie feeling it was my last ( I wasn’t laid off until the 18th.)   I remember a sound engineer dropping off a van after the tour she was on was cancelled, she had just driven back from the East Coast. The next 7 months of work she had planned completely vanished.  She seemed devastated and numb.   That was the last client I remember talking to.  The rest of the day was me and my coworker driving  excess vans across LA to store them in lots to sit. On my last day, only a few of the hundred some vans at the LA location were still on the road, and set to return that week.  I enjoyed my job (for a day job,) and appreciate the company. I hope they can eventually recover.

I keep having horrible anxiety dreams about my job.  It is so weird that it isn’t a part of my life and I don’t need to be concerned about it.

I am not OK, and I shouldn’t feel like I have to pretend to be.  I am in a depression mixed with anxiety and adjusting to the new traumatic environment.  I have major depressive disorder and I have trouble getting joy out of life sometimes.  My life has been a roller coaster of going between “normal,” mild depression (eat a lot, lazy, trouble accomplishing small tasks and socializing,) and severe depression (lose weight, quit eating, can’t sleep, ashamed to talk to people, thinking everyone hates me and I don’t deserve friends, and not even drumming brings me happiness.)

I would love to be working, I am not someone who is able to enjoy excess free time.  I need a filled schedule to keep me moving and distracted.  Having a schedule and commitments helps.  I have that kind of successful depression where I can accomplish a lot of things.  With no job or bands, it is getting hard to feel any sense of purpose.  To make matters worse, I am about to run out of my medicine.  This year a 3 month supply jumped from $135 to$ 420.

Normally, losing my job would trigger a depressive episode, but I would be able to use positive thinking, gratitude, and coping skills to get out of it fairly quickly.  I am pretty aware of my illness and take good care most of the time.

Almost all of my normal coping skills are unattainable in this current state. I can’t smash my acoustic drum set, I can’t have band practice, connect with people musically,  and I can’t preform live.  I also can’t go for hikes or spend time deep in nature, and that is a big part of my life.  It is essential to my health.

I can’t take a vacation or go visit my family.  I have been going on 7 mile jogs each day as some type of escape.  Anytime I film myself drumming I just feel like a joke. That’s not me, a  solo drummer. I need a band.  My face hurts from putting on a fake smile.  I am very apathetic towards life.

I have a personal survival plan for I ever start to feel suicidal. Laugh if you want, my last resort plan is to get on a plane, fly to Boise Idaho, rent a car, drive to Yellowstone National Park and bottle feed a baby bear.  My emergency  “life saving cuteness overload serotonin shot to the brain to save my life.”  It’s is a life long dream that I am saving for a dire emergency, because animal rights and stuff. But if it comes to life or death and I have no hope left, I will go hug myself a baby bear.

Well, my baby bear experience is not accessible at this time.  I don’t need it, but just knowing that option isn’t there is adding to the anxiety.

I am thinking very rationally, but my feelings are out of control. It sucks not always being able to have your rational brain control your emotional responses to life.  My rational brain controls my actions, while my gut is a painful ball of knots and panic attacks.  I am stressing about my future security and stability, even though I shouldn’t be.  I feel guilty not being able to just be grateful for having some security at all.  I hate that I have this stupid illness that I feel I should have control over, and but sometimes I can’t.  I feel like I am judged by everyone for not being happy, upbeat or OK with the situation.  Like people think because you are not saying positive things it means you are not following the orders. No…I am just very depressed and can’t fake being OK in times like this.

I have been knocked out of a long running coping routine into a communal trauma induced depression.  Fun times for sure huh? But yes, I am thankful I have a home, Manny, Elvis, and toilet paper.

I really need to do…something. I know having a routine and feeling like I am contributing to society and helping during this crisis, will help me get out of this depressive funk.  I have all the time, just not the money. I want to volunteer.  I am looking for where the volunteers are needed and what is needed from them.  I still have drumming and giving drum lessons, but I do feel stupid just posting solo videos of myself. I want to be doing more than drumming.  I wish I was a scientist working to find a vaccine or studying the genetics of the illness.  I got the knowledge but not the college degree or access to labs lol.  I am a writer, but how and where can I write to make a difference.

 

Now is the Time for Compassion, Not Judgement

Now is the time for compassion, not judgement.

Trigger warning- depression…

The world has changed with COVID-19. Individual lives have been affected and the world as a whole. With the severe changes and the extreme methods used to combat the virus, another legitimate health threat is looming for many of us. Depression.

It always feels like you are the only one, and the isolation makes it worse. I know that if I am battling it right now many others are suffering too, some very silently.

Please remember depression is a sickness that, like the virus, can result in death. They say up to 200,000 Americans may die of COVID-19. In 2018, there were 48,300 suicide deaths. As it is now for every 4 people who die from Corona 1 person will die of suicide this year. That number is sure to rise as a result of the current circumstances too.

Depression is hard to acknowledge and talk about. Everyone wants to stay positive in this, and believe me I do too. Some people are good at reaching out for help but many hide it, afraid to annoy people with their unpleasant feelings.

There are also things very well meaning people say, unaware that it does more harm than good. These things can be damaging. People with depression, trauma, and anxiety already have hyper-vigilant nervous systems and even small remarks said in the wrong way can seem detrimental.

The first is trying to push positivity upon depression. “Hey, just cheer up.” “It will all be ok.” “You are worrying over nothing. ” “You just need to have a positive attitude.” “Let’s all smile.”

You can not just tell a person to be happy, especially with depression or grief. It makes the person feel isolated in their feelings and wrong to have them. There is a lot of guilt of emotions with depression. “If everyone else can just cheer themselves up why can’t I?”

We need to acknowledge the fact that there are many people battling harsh emotions now. We can not deny that the country is also dealing with a mental health crisis. It is unhealthy and detrimental to not confront this publicly.

It is OK to be sad or depressed. It is OK to need to talk about it. It is OK to express these feelings. Don’t expect people to be able to just put on a happy face during this time.

The next thing please do not compare a person with depression’s situation to others. Like pointing out that other people have it worse. It is minimizing the person and they perceive it as their feelings are invalid, or they are selfish just for having them.

I am seeing a lot of this with the current situation. “Lot’s of people lost their jobs, not just you.” “We are all stuck inside.” “Many people have it worse.”

This can isolate depression and grief and cause guilt for expressing their feelings.

Another really big one, that has been prevalent in the recent situation, is people trying to force gratitude on others. One step further, I am seeing people judging others for a perceived lack of gratitude.

Don’t tell someone else they are wrong because you don’t think they are grateful enough. Do the people who are doing this even realize how rude it is, or how much damage their remarks can do to someone with depression?

“Well at least you have a home.” “You have food and wi-fi so you have no reason to complain.” “Why are you sad you should be grateful of what you do have.” “Your house is comfortable you are selfish for not being grateful.” “How can you complain about losing your job when you have shelter and food, what is wrong with you?’

A person with depression can feel they have no right to any negative emotions, that their pain is not legitimate. These remarks make them feel like their reason for feeling down, sad, shocked, anxious isn’t “bad” enough, so there must be something wrong with them if they have those feelings. It is emphasizing to a person already feeling like a burden that they really are damaged.

Depression is not a lack of gratitude, and gratitude is not the cure for depression. It is actually one of the many coping skills I personally combine to navigate my depression. I do have many things to be grateful for, and I am, but the depression is still there. It helps, but is not as simple as that.

You can be grateful of what you have and still be sad or in pain. Those are natural human emotions.

It still hurts to lose your job. It is a shock to your system when most of your ways of coping and treatment disappear almost overnight.

My personal coping with depression involves medicine and therapy.

It also involves sticking to a sleep schedule and getting at least 7 hours a night. It involves keeping my life as low stress as possible and having the security of a job for the income and purpose to get out of bed. It involves meditation and yoga routines, jogging, hiking and getting time in nature. Expressing my emotions by playing music, and the important connection of playing with others. Playing the drums is my zen zone and vital to my well-being. It actually takes a lot of time, effort, money and sacrifice for me to live healthily with depression.

Please remember depression is a legitimate illness. It is not a lack of positive thinking and it is not a lack of gratitude. It is medical condition and is treated with a mix of different coping skills, medicines, therapy, ect.

It also isn’t just “being sad.” Often it is a lack of emotions, apathy about living, constant numbness. It has physical symptoms too, like your limbs feel like weights you can hardly lift, and getting out of bed can seem impossible. Standing in the shower hurts. It can take so much effort to do the smallest tasks. Living itself is simply painful.

When I am in moderate depression I will gain a couple pounds and get lazy, over eat sugar, sleep too much and cry.

However, when I am in severe depression I lose weight because I loose my appetite, I can’t eat or sleep well, and I also loose any interest in life and the things I normally enjoy. I can’t cry, I feel detached.

After I lost my job I was staying so mentally positive, looking on the bright side, being mindful and staying grateful.  I was counting my blessings and reminding myself that I will be ok.

I also noticed I wasn’t sleeping, I was not eating much, and I was losing weight fast. I disassociated from the emotions of losing my job, hiking, and live music, the sudden financial stress, and I focused on the positive, but still my body was in depression.

About a week later the pain welled up to the point I couldn’t repress it anymore and BAM!!! I cried for 2 like days, and that was OK people, because it does hurt to loose your job, your ability to play music with people, hugs, and all the associated stress of this situation. It is OK to have negative feelings at times like these. It is OK to cry and express pain. It is OK to have conversations that are not all positive and bright.

Those tough conversations are needed right now for many people.  People need to express their pain right now, not hide it for fear of being judged for it.

I am strong and my awareness of my illness, my medication, and my daily routines help me so much. But other people suffering right now may not have these support systems. Some people suffering right now may not even be aware what they are feeling is depression. Also, many people are also dealing with grief at this point in time.

So, to anyone who is judging sad and grieving people, depressed people, or people voicing their hardships at the current situation for not being grateful enough, that isn’t what is needed right now.

Instead of telling people what they should be grateful for, trying telling them why you are grateful for them. That is something many people need to hear right now. Let people know why they are important to this world.

Reach out to a friend and really ask how they are doing if you think they are having trouble. Reach out to friends you may never even think are having trouble too. Many of us are great at hiding our depression, we have been doing it for years.

Please listen to each other and be compassionate and understanding at this time.

2018 Life Update

Well….trying to update this website/blog I started forever ago. I thought it would be nice to have a place with links to all of my many projects and creative endeavors. Also…maybe share my real thoughts that I usually think no one wants to hear. Who knows, maybe someone does want to know the random things that go on in my head. Warning- It can be a scary place, lol. DEPRESSION!!! But I am not depressed all the time, or I do a pretty good job of managing it. I have to do a lot of self care. Get good sleep, exercise, yoga, meditation, positive affirmations, good diet, writing, DRUMMING, ect. I do pretty good job taking care of myself and am very independent.

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I currently have 3 bands I am active with; Dangerously Sleazy, ModPods, The Dale Crover Band. That last one there kinda blows my mind. I somehow lucked out/ worked hard enough to be playing drums in one of my favorite drummer’s bands.

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ModPods recently went on tour opening for Melvins!! That…was…amazing! I never would of guessed I would get to meet, let alone tour with one of my favorite bands. Yes, we sound nothing like them, but it worked out well. It was very fun, and as far as my touring experiences have gone, very comfortable. I didn’t get a cold or illness, I slept in a bed every night, I ate healthy food, I only had 2 nights where I got less than 6 hours sleep. We got to drive through the Canadian Rockies which was a mind blowing, beautiful, peaceful, zen experience. I am glad I got to share it with 2 of my best friends in Los Angeles, Daniel and Myriad. Slowly working on my solo project. My perfectionism and self doubt are making that take a long time…

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Also, Manny’s dog Elvis has come to live with us, so it is super nice to have a cute furry little senior pup to hang out with. It is my first time living with a dog, and I am learning a lot. Not used to something being so dependent on me for survival. He is adorable though and I am getting used to picking up dog poop, which until now was one main reason I was apprehensive about getting a dog.

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I am also an aunt!! I have this adorable little nephew named Liam. He is about to turn 6, and lives with my sister and her husband in Virginia. Manny and I have gone to visit them, and it was a really fun trip. Brother-in-law works at the Pentagon, so we got to wander around that famous place late at night, as well as check out Washington DC. That trip was one week before Trump took office. They were already lining the streets with an over abundance of porta-potties. I swear, after seeing the pics of his “huge” inauguration, I think the ratio was 2 porta-potties for every 1 person who actually went to that shit show.