Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Antidepressants, Day 2

Yesterday I started with my antidepressants.
I nearly didn't. After reading the package insert I thought that maybe I wasn't feeling so bad after all, at least not bad enough to take these risks. Side effects include nausea, dizziness, sleeplessness, vision disorders, seizures, etc. Now, I live alone and I was really afraid that something could happen to me and no one would notice and no one would be there to help.
So I sat there with the pills for quite some time, not daring to take one and thought about how ridiculous it is that pills against anxiety would cause you to be afraid of taking them.

I took one, in the end. I told myself that just one couldn't do much bad. And then today I told myself that since so far nothing bad has happened, another wouldn't hurt.
So far, I have only noticed a slight dryness of the mouth and a little nausea - but since I'm often a little nauseous because of my allergy, it's hard to say whether that's really a side effect.

I also decided on a whim that yesterday would be a "No-Obligations-Day". I'd do nothing that I didn't want to. No chores, no grocery shopping, no answering mails from work, no organizing doctor's appointments, no tasks for my training, no going for a walk (if I didn't want to).
In the end I spent most of the day napping. Maybe that was good for my cold, it was the first day in a week that I didn't have a headache.
I lay on the couch, following the ray of sunshine and thinking back to when I would lie on the floor with our late cat, doing just that. When just lying on the floor in the sun with your cat was an acceptable way to spend your time.

I guess these "No-Obligations-Days" might work a little better if you could prepare for them. In the end I still felt a little guilty for not doing some things, even though I told myself that a day later wouldn't make a difference.

I hope I can be a little more productive the next days. I always tend to plan to do lots of things when I'm off work and sick, "at least on the last days when I feel better". There's spring cleaning, job applications, tasks for my online training, tidying up the mess, watching series and writing reviews, reading... And in the end I always feel like failing, because I don't get much of it done.
As always there are two voices in my head. One says "take it easy, the doctor said you should stay home for a reason, if you plan to much you'll just feel bad for not doing it". And the other goes "yeah, but look at this mess, I'm never going to clean it up while at work and now I'm home all day, I should at least be able to spend 2 hours on something, that's not much".

Monday, 13 March 2017

Black Dog barking, Part 2

So today I was at my Doctors again. I spent over two hours in the waiting room.
Actually I was still feeling ill with a cold and wasn't at work today and as such needed another sick certificate.
But of course my doctor talked about the results of the blood test. I guess if I wouldn't have felt ill, I'd have just left it at that test for a while and wouldn't have talked to him about it...

Most of the results are OK, vitamin B12 levels a little low - but no explanation for me feeling depressed.
In the end I walked out with one more week sick leave and a recipe for antidepressants. He said that it's better not to be at work when starting these kind of meds.

I didn't want to be off work for another whole week. The week after this I have a few days off (a short trip to Italy with my parents), so I'll only be at work for three days before leaving again.

On my way home I felt really bad about this. Nearly two weeks away from work and then three weeks to do all the work and then a couple of days off again?
I felt guilty. Unsure.
Then again, the doctor said he'd recommend it, so it's probably for the best. Right?
Then the next worry: I can't cook, I usually have my main meal at the work cantina. How am I going to get through a whole week (and the next weekend)?
When I told my mother, she was worried for yet another reason: if I'm not at work, she's afraid I'll stay inside, talk to no one (which isn't that unlikely) and be more miserable. So I guess I'll try to get out a lot (when my headache gets better).

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A black dog barking in the distance?

About ten years ago, while I was working on my master thesis, I was diagnosed with clinical depression.
It had probably taken a long time until I realized I was ill. That it wasn't normal to walk through the town crying, that it wasn't normal to see a car and think about when I would have to jump to be hit.
I had behaviour therapy and I took meds. But even so I still didn't manage to finish my masters degree.
After a while I ended my therapy, though tapering the meds took a while.

I knew it could always come back.

So since a few months I think it happened.
It's different this time. No suicidal thoughts. Instead I'm afraid. Mainly of something happening to my parents. I'm afraid there'll be a car crash when my father is driving.
What's similar to last time is the compulsive thoughts. I'm thinking about terrible things, in detail - but I don't want to. I imagine terrible wounds my parents would suffer. While on my way to visit my parents I wonder whether my father is having a heart attack at the moment, with my mother trying to save him - instead of looking forward to dinner like normal people.
I also feel a heaviness on me. Sometimes I don't know how I manage to get up and go to work. It seems that when I don't think about it, my body is able to move. I'm wondering at it from the outside, because it doesn't feel like I could go on anymore.

I hate my job. I hate most people there. I hate the work I have to do. I was supposed to be a conceptual designer, but now most of the time I'm a project manager for a project that is unlikely to succeed; and there's not much I can do about it.
I'm doing an online training course to change field. At work nobody knows about it. It's fun and I really want to finish this, I don't want to lose my chance again like last time when I had a depression.
At the same time, I'm applying for jobs in the new field. So far with little luck. The refusal emails come in, one after the other. Last year, I applied for jobs in the UX field, I had six job interviews throughout the year - and I didn't get any of the jobs. I'm pretty sure, I must be doing something terribly wrong.

So while I wasn't feeling well, I was still pulling through. When I see people with anxiety or autism on Twitter or think about my cousin with multiple sclerosis, I feel like I have no right to complain. Maybe I'm just tying to get the easy way out from my current job?
After all, I still enjoy doing certain things like reading or watching movies - which is non-typical with depression.

Even so, last Wednesday I talked to my doctor about it. I explained the symptoms. He agreed that it could very well be a clinical depression. We did a blood test to check my vitamins, etc. Yesterday morning I called to ask about the result. The blood test results came back OK.

What am I supposed to do now?
I have no idea how I'm supposed to fit therapy hours into my schedule (which involves lots of commuting). I really want to finish my training, I want to work in another field. I don't want to have to end it, failing again, because of depression.

My health insurance offers an online monitoring and supervision for people who are depressed. Maybe I'll ask about this.
But in the end, it'll just add more to the things I have to do.

I really don't know what I should do.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

repost: On the issue of Fake Geek Girls, The Big Bang Theory, Legolas and the new Star Trek movies

Please note: This is a repost of something I wrote in 2014 for my other blog.

I do believe Fake Geek Girls exist. But: it's not just girls.
Girls are just more obvious, they get more attention. I'm not 100% sure why that is. I think it has to do with gender stereotypes. If a guy says he thinks a woman is sexy, it's like stating that it's going to be a warm sunny day. Everyone can see that, it's not worth mentioning, though nobody minds of you do. But women are supposed not to like sex, so they're not supposed to think of men as sexy, so if they do - they're fan girls. I think this is one aspect, but there's probably more aspects (like men often being able to hide their cluelessness better).

Anyway, so back to Fake Geeks. Yes, I think they exist.
Maybe it's since The Big Bang Theory has become such a big mainstream hit series. Maybe some mainstream celebrity mentioned that they're a "nerd" or "geek" or something. Suddenly being a geek is trendy. Look at all those fake big black glasses.

Take Star Trek for example. Fake geeks would say something like "I'm such a Trekkie, I saw both movies several times." The new movies are Star Trek for non-fans. They took the universe and made it into shiny, sexy action movies. Complete with "inside jokes" to make the fans happy. Looks good, enjoyable for everyone. Now everyone thinks Spock is sexy (not just Jadzia). But they left out some of the things that made Star Trek special - the philosophy, the ethics and morals. Aspects non-fans didn't know existed.

Fake Geeks are annoying.
I know I shouldn't say this. We should be happy that our fandom gets more attention, everyone should be welcome, etc. We should be happy that thanks to Sheldon Cooper more people know what the Doppler effect is. But it's annoying anyway.
I remember when the Lord of the Rings movies were made. You know, the ones by Peter Jackson. I love them, of course. I loved Lord of the Rings way before that. I was a big fan of woodelves and Rangers. My first Pen&Paper roleplaying character was a hunter because it was the closest to a Ranger I could get. My niece - born before the first PJ movie came out - is called Arwen. I knew the Bakshi movie and one of the only two poems I can remember by heart is the Ring poem. Hardly anybody knew what I was talking about - and then suddenly everyone did. Suddenly everyone loved woodelves and Rangers because Legolas was so sexy and Aragorn so cool. It was weird. And it was a little annoying.
It's happened to me again after that. It probably happened to X-Men fans, Sherlock fans, Dr. Who fans and others, too. I loved My Little Pony when I was a kid, but I still don't quite get the fad about them now. It's happening with Big Bang Theory. It will happen again in the future.

So what should we do?
We practice our patience. We're happy about the new fans it will bring to the fandom, the ones that will stick around and be an enrichment to the subculture. And we wait until the others leave again, run to the new fad that's coming up - and we hope they'll do it soon.
And, of course, we'll take all the merchandise we can get...

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Ingeniuous - a board game for singles

Board games are fun. Unfortunately you need friends to play with. It's a bit unfair, right?
I do own a few board games, but most of them I have never played. Since I moved away from home, there's just no one to play with.

But there is at least one game you can play by yourself. It's called "Einfach Genial" in German (Ingenious or Mensa Connections in English).

I own a small travelling version, you can play with one or two players. The normal version can be played with up to four people. So you can both play it alone AND with friends.

So how does it work?
You randomly draw a double-hexagon tile and put it on the board. The tile has two symbols on it. You count the number of the same symbol in straight lines on each of the sides next to the first symbol. You do the same for the other symbol. In this way you collect points for each of the six different symbols. The game ends when no more tiles can be places (this can happen sooner or later, depending on how the tiles are placed).
Now there's a little twist: not the biggest number of points wins. With several players the lowest number of points are compared. So you need to be a little strategic and try to achive a balance between all of your symbols.


Monday, 25 July 2016


I wanted to share this song by Marillion with you because I think the lyrics are very meaningful (and also it's a great song).

You strong enough to be...?
Have you the faith to be...?
Sane enough to be...?
Honest enough to stay...?
Don't have to be the same.
Don't have to be this way.
C'mon and sign your name.
You wild enough to remain...

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Like an Englishman in New York

[I published this post in the spring of last year on my other blog. But I figured it fits in here, too.]

Lately I feel weirded out again. I have these phases when I get depressed and feel utterly lonely because no one around me is like me or understands me.

At work I often feel at the wrong place. I don't share the humour of my coworkers and sometimes I despise their dull jokes and rude behaviour. Especially one external coworker is annoying me to no end - but I seem to be the only one. Am I too sophisticated? Plus I think I did some really clever work, for example I guessed the cause of a bug where programmers were searching for days; but my idea was dismissed. Even after it turned out, hours later, that I was right, no one acknowledged it.
Is there an expression for feeling superior to your peers but instead of feeling good and proud, it just makes you sad and lonely?

There were also several events in the last few weeks to maybe trigger this feeling further.

The Death of Leonard Nimoy.
When I was a certain age and struggling with what maybe was the oncoming of a clinical depression, I wished I was a Vulcan. Superior in mind and especially in control of all emotions, not letting those get in the way. So of course Spock was my favourite character of the original Star Trek series.

Surprisingly Nimoys death was big news in mainstream media, too.
But when I searched for products, you know, fan merch, I mostly got those "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock" stuff from Big Bang Theory. And it made me wonder: how many people actually saw Star Trek, the original series? Most, it seems, just know him from Big Bang Theory or the new Star Trek movies, like some kind of second-hand geekism.

The Death of Terry Pratchett.
Even though of course I was aware it would happen sooner or later, this came as a shock, too. Pratchett is one of my favourite authors, and it was always a joy to hold a new Discworld book in your hands and be able to read it. It felt like not only Sir Terry died, but with him Susan Sto Helit, and Granny Weatherwax and Tiffany Aching and Sam Vimes - they all died, too. Additionally I'm following his daughter Rhianna Pratchett on twitter and felt sorry for her. It also made me terrified of thinking about my parents dying.

Seeing how she dealt with this made me admire her more. I'm not a big gamer myself, so I'm not interested too much in her role in the gaming industry. But I read a piece on her and her relationship with her father and it made me feel like she's a kindred spirit. In a way, maybe, a better version of myself. And I thought: Wow, it would be great to have a friend like that. Someone who maybe not shares all of my exact interests, but someone who understands and listens.
Anyway, I did wear all black at work the next day. Since I always wear rather dark clothes, no one noticed. I did not mention it, I was afraid of condescending remarks and how I'd react to them.

I feel like a lot of the good ones go, musicians, too, and I'm not sure those who are still there are good enough to fill the gap. Music and books are very important to me, but what will the future hold?

The partial Solar Eclipse in Europe.
I badly screwed this one up myself. Since I'm following scientific accounts and a few astronomers on Twitter I knew about this beforehand. But I had other things on my mind, procrastinated, whatever - and I only remembered a few days before that I'd need special glasses to watch it. I also underestimated the demand and the supply of these glasses. Other than with the total eclipse in 1999 hardly anyone sold these glasses this time. And those places were sold out. So in the end I couldn't get any. I was rather angry with myself because it would have been no problem if I had just taken care of it a few days earlier.

No one around me was interested in watching the eclipse and most considered my quest a little peculiar. I actually built three different kinds of pinhole cameras the evening before and took them with me to work. Two or three coworkers got interested then. I got excited when I realized our shutters acted like pinhole cameras, too, and you could watch the eclipse right there, tenfold, in our office. I could not understand how people around me could be so indifferent. I just don't get it! This happens so rarely, who knows whether we'll have a chance this good ever again, the weather was wonderful. How can they get excited about a worldcup that happens every four years, but not about this?

I could hardly do any work during the morning and then went out around the time of the highest eclipse to try out my pinhole cameras. There were three others there. Three! Ok, it was just one door of many, but still... One of them had special glasses (old ones from 1999) and I could borrow them for a few glances. I was really happy about that. The others were curious about my equipment. Something as simple as a pinhole camera fascinated them so much, like a magic trick - and those were grown-ups, mostly working in IT. I felt like I came from another world.

After it was over I felt so happy that I could experience this. I wish I could have shared it with more people, shared my joy. I still can't get my head around most people being so indifferent and letting such a rare event pass without a single glance.

And even worse: lots of German schools locked their pupils inside. Yes, you read that right: school, responsible for educating children, locked them inside during this rare event. Media repeated again and again that you shouldn't look into the sun and the with the shortage of special glasses they just took the easy and safe way. Some schools even closed the shutters. I have no words for how appalled and disappointed I am. I understand the need to be safe, I myself refused to looks through a space blanket. But Pinhole cameras are perfectly safe, cheap and easy to make. Even a famous TV physicist posted a rant about how we live in a society of fear mongering.

So, additionally to feeling lonely and cut off, I'm also sad about what this world is coming to. There is so much fear in this world and freedom and equality and peace are eaten up by it. And many of the people pretending to protect freedom are sowing fear and feel like I can do nothing but watch helplessly.
But this issue probably is better of in another blog post.