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Welcome to my blog!

Here we go, world. This is a blog about my 74 years of living with depression, but also about lots of other things:  My life’s journey, my passions, my opinions on whatever I want to share: reading, writing (2 drawer novels), helping others with their writing (BA and MA in English, freelance proofreader and editor), history, politics, music (amateur flutist), Okie pride, cats, dogs, being in love, being in platonic heterosexual relationships, supporting same-sex relationships, our gun culture, our racist history, our dying planet. Just to name a few, , , ,

This is my first entry, and I plan to post about once a week.  If you like what you read, follow my blog and you’ll get all my posts.  Comments and likes are appreciated.

Stay tuned. Marjorie Beck

Warning: Politics Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

I said in one of my early posts I would not write about political topics. I made one exception to that for a June post email to Jeff Sessions. I make another exception now to write about how the current national political climate has affected me personally.

For the past two months I’ve had a problem summoning the motivation and energy to do practically anything, even things I normally enjoyed. My last blog post was September 6. I had lots of others waiting in my queue, but I just couldn’t call up the interest to post. I wasn’t feeling sad; on the contrary, my general attitude was cheerful. I just couldn’t find the motivation and energy to act.

This is a classic sign of depression. I was puzzled. Why would I be in depression if I was feeling cheerful and basically happy with my life? It took me a while to figure it out, but finally it came to me like a thunder clap. It was all about stress.

At some point long ago I came to the conclusion not to get stressed about things I couldn’t control. Traffic jams. Long grocery lines. Home power failures in storms. I followed Erma Bombeck’s advice: “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.” I use humor a lot to get through things I can’t change.

I have been living with things I can’t change since the presidential election of 2016. Humor has been one of my coping tools, faithfully following political comedy on TV and allowing my raucous laughter to carry me through situations that would otherwise enrage or dishearten me.

I thought it was enough. But after almost two years of living in this toxic, dangerous national environment, I have to admit it: I can’t ignore what this stress has been doing to me any longer. I need more coping mechanisms.

I’ve always believed in being an informed citizen. I follow local and national politics. In normal times, that doesn’t mean being subjected to a daily onslaught of negativity. But these are not normal times.

I don’t subscibe to the ostrich theory.  I won’t hide from the bad news. I won’t agree to be uninformed.

Here’s what I will do:

My partner and I enjoy watching some national political commentators in the evening. I won’t stop doing that. But now when I watch I take it in more objectively as information I should have, rather than as the latest political outrage I should worry about. Often I do something else while I’m watching, which helps to soften the impact of what I’m seeing and hearing.

I stay away from politics on social media. I have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I don’t use them a lot, and I don’t follow political figures.

When friends start talking politics in my presence, I ask them to stop. Although like many–maybe too many–people in this country, my friends and I mostly have similar political views. But I find discussing politics now even with people I agree with still leads to raised voices and shrill opinions, and it stresses me. When my friends and I talk  politics we’re preaching to the converted. So why do it at all?

To better manage my depression in general, I’ve starting using my SAD lamp for 30 minutes when I wake up each morning. I wear an Alpha-Stim cranial electronic stimulator every day for an hour. They are great mood-lifters and energizers.

These are some of the things I’m doing now to keep my depression and stress at bay about things I can’t change.

There is one thing I can do to change things for the better, and that’s VOTE! on November 6. I am a pretty regular voter, but I admit I sometimes have skipped midterm or local elections. No more. Every election counts, no matter how small and local. Every vote counts.

Please join me on November 6 to exercise this most fundamental right of your citizenship.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you like it, follow this post and you’ll receive notice of  my new ones.

Joy and Peace,

Marjorie Beck

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Warning: Politics Can Be Hazardous to Your Health”

Language Quiz

1. If you were on trial for murder, would you rather the judge were:

A. Uninterested

B. Disinterested

2. If you were giving a speech and you saw most of your audience yawning or nodding off or staring at their smart phones, would you conclude your audience was:

A. Uninterested

B. Disinterested

The answer to Question 1 is B, Disinterested. The answer to Question 1 is A, Uninterested.

Here’s why:

Disinterested means  unbiased, unprejudiced, impartial, neutralnonpartisan. All qualities you would want in a judge trying your case. 

Uninterested means unconcerned, bored, distant, uninvolved, aloof. Exactly what you would not want in the audience to your speech.

Here’s the problem:

Increasingly, Disinterested has overtaken Uninterested as the universal word for unconcerned, bored, aloof, and for unbiased, unprejudiced, impartial, as in “He was disinterested in the magazine article.” In this example, it’s possible the person was taking a neutral, impartial stance on the magazine article, but it’s much more probable he was just bored by it.

Some dictionaries have given up and are now accepting disinterest and uninterest as meaning the same. Do not follow their lead! Stand up for precision in using the two words. Use Disinterested when you’re standing before a judge. Use Uninterested when you’re standing in front of a bored audience.

You’ll be a language pro amidst rank amateurs.

Do Animals Have Souls? Part Two

  • Kitten roasted alive in oven
  • Kittens with mouths glued shut
  • Ailing 17-year-old cat abandoned by owners
  • Cat beaten to death with a pole and video shown on  internet
  • Starving greyhound found tied to a pole
  • Young, inexperienced  pit bulls used as bait dogs to teach older pits to fight
  • Dog with half his face chopped off
  • Chihuahua burned in public park by teenage boys
  • Pony with overgrown hooves so long he cannot walk
  • Rabbits, cats, dogs, monkeys used for medical research and product testing
  • Elephant kept chained more than 20 years in a roadside zoo
  • Orcas kept in captivity in sea parks to entertain humans
  • Chickens raised in factory farm cages, never seeing the sun

These are a few of the things people do daily to animals around the world.

I could have made this list a lot longer.

Some would say all the things on the list are animal abuse. Some would not, arguing that people have the right to use animals for medical research that will benefit humans, that we need to raise chickens in factory conditions so we can eat their flesh and eggs, that elephants and orcas enjoy performing for humans, that pitbulls are born fighters, that the owner of the pony with overgrown hooves was perhaps growing senile or just didn’t know any better.

Some might even say the most horrific abuse examples on this list are okay, because God gave man dominion over the animals to do with as he wished, and therefore animals don’t have the intelligence, awareness, and feelings that we do.

These people all have one thing in common:

Obviously they do not think animals have souls.

I used to be like them.  I hated to see outright animal cruelty, but I didn’t think using animals for testing or slaughtering them for food was anything to object to. Over time, my thinking evolved, as readers of my earlier post Do Animals Have Souls? Part One already know.

My thinking evolved because of all the companion animals who have shared my life, and because I have seen and heard about countless examples of animal intelligence, emotion, and bonding among animals and between animals and their humans.

My newspaper today carried an especially poignant story of a mother animal feeling grief:

A female orca whale in a pod roaming the Pacific Ocean between Vancouver, B.C. and San Juan Island gave birth to a calf that was the first live birth in the pod since 2015. This calf lived only about half an hour. For 17 days the mother orca carried her dead calf with her “in an unprecedented act of mourning,” according to whale researchers following the pod.

The mother would balance the baby on her head or push it along with her nose, and retrieved it each time it began to sink in the water. This made it difficult for the mother to keep up with her pod, but she would not let her baby go. Finally after 17 days she did release the dead calf to sink in the ocean.

At this point it is appropriate to recall the wisdom of Charles Darwin:

There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel  pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.  

Charles Darwin

How could anyone seeing this whale mother’s behavior deny she was grieving her dead baby, just as a human mother would?

How could anyone witnessing a tortured animal howling in pain or a victim of past torture huddling and trembling in a corner deny that animals suffer physically and psychologically from ill treatment, just as humans do?

I’m  with Charles Darwin. Animals and humans have too much in common for animals to be treated as commodities or objects of neglect and abuse.  All humans and all animals deserve respect.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. If you like it, follow this post and you’ll receive notice of  my new ones.

 

Joy and Peace,

Marjorie Beck

 

 

 

 

Introversion: The Third Leg of My Three-Legged Stool

It is high time I finished the third leg of my three-legged stool. I wrote about the first leg, Depression (“What’s With That Blog Title?”) on May 9; I wrote about the second leg, Shyness and Anxiety (“My Three Legged Stool”) on June 1. I intended to finish the job long before now. Life intervened.

With apologies to my many followers waiting with bated breath for the third leg of my stool:

The third leg of my stool is Introversion. Here’s what I wrote May 9:

“Depression, shyness, and anxiety are disabilities to be managed. Introversion is not a disability; it is an innate part of  who I am and is to be understood and embraced.” 

I use the term Introversion as the psychiatrist Karl Jung (1875-1961) defined it in his seminal work Psychological Types (1921).  He identified three innate aspects of everyone’s personality:

  • How you get your energy for living (Introversion, Extraversion)
  • How you take in information (Sensing, Intuition)
  • How you make decisions (Thinking, Feeling)

In the 1940s, two followers of Jung, Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers, identified a fourth aspect of personality:

  • How you relate to the world (Judging, Perceiving)

They developed an instrument called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to help people identify their innate psychological types. Today the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most commonly used and best regarded psychological instruments in the world.

I am going to cover here only the first aspect Jung identified, Introversion and Extraversion, because that is the third leg of my stool.

Introversion does not mean you are shy; Extraversion does not mean you are outgoing. There are shy Extroverts and outgoing Introverts.

As Jung, Briggs, and Myers identified Introversion and Extraversion, they are two different ways (or preferences) of getting your life’s energy. You are born with these preferences. They are both good ways of being. You do not change your basic preferences, but you can, at least to some extent, change behaviors associated with them.

Simply put:

Extraverts draw their energy from engaging with other people and their environment.

Introverts draw their energy from within themselves.

To identify which preference you have, you could ask yourself:

At the end of a hard, stressful day, would you rather:

  1. Go out and unwind with friends at a bar,                         OR
  2. Go home, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy a quiet evening with a good book.

Here’s another situation:

You are at a large party, and you know only a few of the people there. Would you probably:

  1. Circulate around the room to meet and talk with new people,      OR
  2. Stay close to the people you know and talk with them.

If you are an Extravert, you probably would pick the first answer to both questions. If you are an Introvert, you probably would choose the second answer.

I say “probably” because for some people those choices might be reversed. Remember, there are shy Extraverts and outgoing Introverts.

I am a shy Introvert. I get my energy from within myself, and in social situations I’m  more comfortable with people I know than with strangers.

Introversion and Extraversion even can be detected in how we move our bodies.

Extraverts, drawing their energy from the people and environment around them, tend to move more than Introverts, Extroverts may tap a foot or drum fingers while sitting, or shift position frequently, or get up and stretch or move around the room. as if they are extending feelers out to their surroundings.

Introverts, who draw their energy from within, usually sit more quietly and for longer periods without much body movement. Introverts also may smile less than Extroverts.

In the same vein, Extraverts tend to listen more expressively than Introverts. An Extravert listening to someone might lean forward, smile, give head nods, say “I see,” or give other facial or body signals that he or she is hearing and reacting to the speaker.

An Introvert may do little or none of that, leaving the speaker wondering what the hell the listener is thinking about what the speaker is saying.

Being introverted, I tend to be a stone-faced listener. That can be a problem with people who don’t know me, and was, early in my city government career.

My boss was the city manager, and I had a lot of contact with the seven city councilors. I had cordial relationships with most of the councilors, but there was one, a very extroverted person, who did not like me at all. The city manager, who understood me very well, took me aside one day and did me the favor of explaining the reason for this councilor’s dislike.

It was my stone-faced listening. The councilor would talk to me and I would give no visible reaction, which the councilor interpreted as indifference or hostility.  (Truth was, such an extroverted, dominant personality intimidated me. And when I’m intimidated, I do shut down.)

 From then on, when I talked with that councilor, I gave lots of listening cues. I leaned forward, I nodded, I said “uh-huh,” and “oh, I see.” Things gradually improved between us. Later, when I ended up working on a project for the councilor that especially called on my skill set, we became friends.

I will always be grateful for my boss’s intervention early in my career on an aspect of  introverted behavior I needed to change. It was some of the best coaching I ever got. I continued working on my listening skills, and in time active, extroverted listening became second nature to me.

This is an illustration that your preference doesn’t change, but your behavior can. I was and always will  be an Introvert, getting my energy from within. But I can change introverted behavior when it’s not working for me.

Growing up, I knew nothing about Introversion or Extraversion. I knew nothing about depression. I did know I was shy and anxious, and that wasn’t a good thing. I knew I liked to be alone a lot, and I thought that  was a good thing. I still do. But now I understand that I do better if I’m not alone too much, as I was too often in the past. Some of my worst bouts of depression came when I lived alone. I’m living with a partner now, and I need that.

Learning about my Introversion also helped me understand why I had difficult relationships wi th my parents when I was growing up. My mother and father were Extraverts; my older sister and I were Introverts. My mother and I clashed a lot over privacy: As an Introvert I wanted lots of it. As an Extravert and a mother she felt I should have little of it. There was a lot of drawer snooping and pocket searching and diary reading that led to anger and raised voices.

This Introversion-Extraversion example of privacy attitudes is extreme, because there were a lot of other reasons my mother and I clashed on a lot of things.  It is true, though, that Introverts and Extraverts may have different ideas about privacy.

Introverts tend to be bad at spreading gossip. That is because If you tell something to an Introvert, he or she  may consider the message intended for him or her alone, not necessarily for anyone else.  Extraverts hearing the same message may consider it interesting information to be shared with others.

I have been burned by this difference several times, talking to a friend about something I considered personal and confidential, only to discover later that the friend told other people. I considered this a breach of confidence. The friend, for whatever reason, did not. I learned from those experiences that if I talk to someone about something I consider private and confidential, I need to say that.

I was not able to embrace the strengths of my Introversion when I was younger because it was so pathologically entangled with my depression and shyness. Now that I understand my depression and shyness, I love being an Introvert. For me, it’s the only way to be.

 

Thank you for reading this post. If you like what you read, you can follow my blog and get notification when I do a new post.

Marjorie Beck

 

 

Why I Hate China

I’ve lived in Lane County, Oregon for 44 years, far longer than I lived anywhere else, and I’ve lived in its county seat Eugene for 26 years. Since the 1970s, Oregon has been known as a “progressive” state, and Eugene has been known as an even more “progressive” city. The last Hippie Refuge, some call it. If it’s good for the environment, we Eugeneans latch on to it.

Thus you probably would not be surprised to learn that Eugeneans have been recyclers since forever, and that Lane County has been promoting recycling since almost forever. In Eugene, we had curbside comingled recycling for just about everything–paper, glass, metal, plastic. The only restriction was it had to be clean when it went in the bin. It was recycle heaven.

I say “we had” and “It was” because there is now a big exception to our recycling options: Plastic. 

It seems China has been our market for plastic recycling, and China has gotten sick and tired of all the dirty, food-contaminated plastic we’ve been sending them. So they’ve stopped accepting most of it.

This applies not just to Eugene and Lane County, but nationwide. Now we in Eugene and Lane County have to throw almost all our plastic bottles and tubs and whatnot in the garbage, which goes to the landfill, which takes up more room on this poor old tired planet and leaches all kinds of nastiness into our groundwater. Every time I throw a plastic yogurt tub in the trash I feel like an earth murderer.

Actually, I’m not mad at China for this. (Although, given our quasi-adversarial history with China, could it be a kind of environmental warfare, the newest development after cyber hacking?) But giving China the benefit of the doubt, I don’t blame them for not accepting our dirty smelly plastics; I blame the lazy slobs in the U.S. who can’t be bothered to follow directions and clean out their ketchup and mustard jars.

Apologies, China. I don’t really hate you. But I sure wish you’d start accepting our plastics again.

 

Thanks for reading my blog. If you like my posts, follow me and you’ll get notices of new ones.

Marjorie Beck