I think it might be time to get back on the antidepressants. I've been on them before and I haven't taken any for quite a few years, but I think it's time to get back for a bit.
I've been trying to do the things I've been told to do: I've been physically active, running and hiking; I've been pursuing my interests by playing music, trying to record music & trying to take interesting pictures; I've been visiting friends and family who love me and whom I love in return; I've been trying to get out there in the world and talk with people in public; I've been trying out new activities, like camping and spending time at the gym; I've varied my responsibilities at work, even joining up with the school's Pro-D committee.
However, I'm still having trouble climbing out of this hole. Usually Spring lifts my spirits a bunch, but right now it's just not happening. Despite the list above, I'm also doing a lot of laying around, I'm barely able to focus at work, and I'm not really enjoying anything I've been doing. I haven't been calling people to chat. I think the symptoms point pretty directly to depression.
And, as much as I've tried to deal with it myself, my doctor agrees.
In such progressive circles as my own, it's not supposed to be a stigma to take antidepressants. In fact, people seem to laud those who admit to taking antidepressants. In the popular media, Mental Health Awareness Days are legion and it's supposed to be something we can talk about and articulate. On social media, people vulnerable enough to admit to taking antidepressants seem to be lauded as "brave" in their respective networks.
But the stigma's there in spite of it. I, for example, have been checking job boards while simultaneously thinking about taking antidepressants, fearing that admitting it will reflect poorly on my to prospective employers. It's a little nerve-wracking. Am I brave for taking them, or am I unstable? I can't quite tell.
But I also dislike the idea of taking antidepressants in the first place. Running, doing activities you love, visiting with friends, etc.. it should be enough. But for now it isn't. I can go for a run, but my brain still spins as soon as I stop; I can play guitar, but my sessions get shorter and shorter. My current methods, myriad as they are, haven't been working, no matter what I think. I may not like taking antidepressants, but it's probably in my best interest that I do.
There's one catch here, of course. The dominant feature of my life is my kids, and they live ever so far away right now. We're still sorting that out. And although I might be able to move closer one day, the "limbo" I'm in right now is nothing short of dominant in my mind. This separation/divorce process is exhausting to say the least. No amount of endorphins from a 10km run can distract my brain from trying to compensate for that distance, for this separation.
So perhaps it's time to get a little bit of a pick-me-up from some antidepressants. Perhaps that's a little bit fair.
I have a certain obsession with my relationship with smartphones. I love it but hate it; I avoid it but it fills up my time way too much.
We gave our eldest child a smartphone back in 2014 or so. They use it a lot. It's the main way that I'm able to communicate with my kids right now.
But I also feel like it's taken over their life. And this article points out the deeper problem... that I've let the smartphone do parenting for me. That's where my sense of guilt comes from.
A couple weeks ago, while I was working out at the gym, I really messed up my shoulder. It was painful enough that I missed a day and a half at work. I've gone to a few chiropractor appointments and am taking physio to take care of it as much as I can. I finally talked with my doctor yesterday and he identified it as my deltoid muscle. I think. To be honest, I can barely remember, even though I've been to all these specialists. I still haven't memorized my muscle groups enough to talk about them.
A couple years ago, I expressed to my sister-in-law that I don't get sick very often. I think we were talking about sick days. She told me that my brother also was like that, but as he's gotten older he's gotten sick more often. And I thought, Hmm... 9 years' difference... I got time.
But apparently I don't. I've most certainly gotten sick more often this year. Enough that I empathized far too much with the following stand-up routine from CBC radio:
It's funny, though, just how much my stupid shoulder messed with my ability to do basic things:
If anything, it's a reminder that I'm getting old and need to take care of myself. This was another strange thing about it: I don't have a partner/sounding board to tell me to get to treatment when I should. Instead, I waited until things were bad enough that I couldn't sleep at all, bad enough that I couldn't work. It's strange to need to take care of myself completely this way. I am going to need to learn how to be more comfortable with my own body, in my own skin, if I'm going to get by successfully as a bachelor.
Fortunately, last night I did my first run since the injury. It felt good, even if I ran really, really slowly. But it's good to get my body working again.
One step at a time.
A couple weeks ago, I finished listening to Sir Ken Robinson's The Element. The book acts as an accessible educational treatise and claims that we need to do better at preparing students for an unknowable future, one without a priority on standardized tests.
I can generally run with that. Standardized tests don't mean much beyond a student's ability to do that test that day; the breakdown of academic subjects is archaic and does not reflect the slushy reality of day-to-day living.
But I find the book's emphasis on "breaking the mold" a little... lacking. The overall tone seemed to reflect a direction in education that concerns me a little: I call it "TEDizeation."
TEDization refers to catering to the ideals that people see in TED talks. TED talks are popular, but not necessarily good. TED creates a false equivalence between the presenter and the research, and prioritizes inspiration over substance. People come out of these talks feeling good, but they don't necessarily carry the nuance needed for lasting change. I feel like The Element fits in that cookiecutter, insofar as it prioritizes passion, despite the ease by which our passions are misguided. It's not wrong... but it's artificial.
On You Are Not So Smart, a recent episode (embedded above) highlighted how our notions of the "self" change how we act like "fully realized" individuals. I've embedded it above. It's a good supplement to The Element, since Robinson's book comes off as highly self-indulgent. But I'll likely post more on that later.
But until then, I'd just like to exercise some caution about feeling like TED ideals are the ideals we want to imbue students with.
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