Friday, September 10, 2010

Rebellion, Apocolypse, and Hostels

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins is the much awaited final book of the Hunger Games trilogy. The rebellion takes hold in the Districts and finally takes on the Capitol. I liked it, and liked how everything was wrapped up in the end.  It seemed like there was less character development in this one since Katniss spends a lot of the book being disoriented.  My perception might have been caused by keeping myself slightly detached from the book because that some of the imagery felt too close.  I knew I wouldn't be able to deal with Katniss's emotions as well as my own at that point.  Good book, though my favorite of the three is Hunger Games.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) and Terry Pratchett was an incredibly awesome read. Two of some of the best contemporary SF authors combining forces in this hysterical account of what might happen if you put the Apocalypse into the hands of human free will.  It was a really great read complete with really great moments of pointing and laughing at real life. This is a must-read for any current fans of either of the authors. If I got a chance for either of them to sign a book, I would make sure to bring this one. (I have the white cover.)  After I drop it in the bathtub, of course.

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson) was my first time reading anything of hers.  She is fantastic to follow on Twitter, so I figured that I just had to read something of hers.  This follows seventeen year old Ginny as she wanders around Europe at the direction of letters given to her by her aunt.  This book touched on so many places in Europe that I really want to visit and only one that I have actually been to (London). From the little jokes I understood from the London events, I know I'm missing a lot more of the jokes in the other places. This futher solidifies my desire to do a very similar tour of my own.  I wonder if I would be able to leave technology behind me.  I wonder if MJ would be able to!!  On another note, does anyone know if there is any fan art of the tattoo Mari gives Ginny? Would love to see a representation of it.  I couldn't picture it well in my head.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Good Grief, August!

Yikes, August was rocky.  It was supposed to be a chill month.  With school out of session, my schedule was supposed to open up.  For some reason I think I got less done than possible.   A couple good things happened and a couple of bad. 

I got a haircut!  This length suits me so much better, though I'm still working out how to secure it when at the gym or lab.  I was able to donate ten inches to Locks for Love for my second time.  It's so cool to be able to do that. 

I was more social in August than when school was in session.  I was able to catch up with some friends and see some movies:  Despicable Me, The Good Guys, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  Scott Pilgrim was the best movie I've seen in a long while.  If you haven't yet, go see it!

I started running again!  I had a summer hiatus due to a way too hectic schedule.  I gained about ten pounds after my Professional Dining Class, so now I feel like I'm at a disadvantage going into half marathon training.  I'm now working out after my classes and that makes for some very late nights.  After completing 50 miles this month, I am at 241 miles year to date.  Finally crossed the 200 mile marker!

I started writing again!  Not a lot, but this month included almost 9000 words, which is more than May, June and July word counts combined.  And August included the first new fiction in a long while. A good chunk is a new short story which is now ready for submission.  In a good way.

Gwen was sick.  She's my first dog, so now that she's getting older (she's eight)it makes me scared whenever she gets sick.  She's okay now, but she had to have blood drawn and x-rays and everything.  Poor thing.

I'm going through another episode of depression.  My third.  I am trying a lot of different things, but so far it hasn't been great and I'm still not as functional as I need to be.  That was a major reason why I picked up Undoing Depression, but I still think I need medication and therapy.  I am also going to try some different supplements, pending doctor's okay.  Sigh. 

I have hope for September, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is rocky too. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Undoing Depression by Richard O'Connor

Depression causes brain damage, claims Richard O'Connor, author of Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You. Studies have shown that not only the brain produce less “happy” chemicals, but that it looses the ability to detect the presence of the “happy” chemicals. I'm paraphrasing significantly, but that's the bad news.

The good news is that many of the habits comprise the depressive's behaviors are learned through repetition and can be unlearned. Most of it revolves around paying attention to emotions and thoughts in order to gain control over them instead of being controlled by them. This is difficult for most depressives because those emotions and thoughts have been blocked or ignored. It is a defense mechanism for the depressive who is not ready to deal with them, but too often it goes on for a significant amount of time. Even when ignored or blocked, the emotions can still cause mood swings. Then the depressive says the mood “came out of the blue,” though he or she was just not aware of what the trigger was.

O'Connor argues that medication and therapy are still effective treatment options, but they have limitations. Studies on either have only proven that medication or therapy reduces the number of symptoms that together made a Major Depression Disorder (MDD) diagnosis over a three month period. There have not been any studies on the long term effectiveness of medication, but most people diagnosed with MDD stay on medication for “maintenance.”

A diagnosis of MDD is compared to that of heart disease. Once you have it, you have to change your lifestyle to reduce the risk of a recurrence. Most heart patients will get instructions on what needs to be adjusted in order to continue life after heart disease. People diagnosed with depression are not given that type of information. It just doesn't exist. O'Connor lays out some exercises that are meant to better equip the depressive for dealing with emotions and thoughts, and by extension, stress. A quarter of the American population is suffering from MDD at any given time, but still a stigma exists against the disorder. It is perceived as a character defect rather than a disease. Like heart disease, it is something you have to live with every day. Some days are more of a struggle than others. It has been most difficult to explain how daily life is affected to people who have not experienced it. That has been where I feel the stigma the most. And, for those in the opposite position, saying “Just Be Happy” is not encouraging.

After reading this book, I wrote a short story, “She's Always Right,” roughly themed on depression. I have gotten it to a point where I can submit it to an upcoming competition. I want to thank my readers and editors for their help and advice: JD, Beth, Brittany, JT, and Amanda. It wouldn't be in its current form without you.