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megpie71

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megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
Thursday, November 10th, 2016 08:33 am
A lot of people are probably feeling numb, flattened and despairing today in the aftermath of the US election. In other words, you're feeling much the same way I often feel for no reason whatsoever. So in the interest of being able to get through the whole mess, and pull yourselves out the other side, and deal with the rest of the world rather than hiding in a bunker panicking for the next few months, I offer the following tips.

1) Acknowledge what you're feeling is genuine. Don't tell yourself you're "over-reacting" or "being over-dramatic" or "being silly". Especially, don't try to tell yourself that you're "fine" (unless you actually mean, "freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional" when you say that). What you're feeling is what you're genuinely feeling, and it's something which deserves to be acknowledged. Don't try to make yourself feel happier or better. Just accept you're feeling bad, and you're allowed to feel bad.

2) Start treating your emotional self the way you'd treat a six-year-old who was feeling the same way. If you need cuddles or hugs, try and get those from friends and family members. If you need to huddle in a blanket with a stuffed animal, do that. If you want to eat chocolate, eat chocolate. Soothe your inner child, in tangible, physical ways. Physical comfort builds mental comfort. Our minds are linked to our bodies. If our minds are in turmoil, comforting the body can help ease this. So eat comfort food (the best comfort food is hot, milky and sweet, because that taps back into our first memories of being comforted and soothed as babies), wear comfortable clothes and favourite colours, and keep at a comfortable temperature for the environment (cool if it's warm out, warm if it's cold out).

3) Acknowledge that emotions require energy. If you're feeling a lot of things, you're going to be more tired, and you're going to need more sleep. So, see whether you can re-arrange your sleep schedule such that you're going to bed earlier, and sleeping a bit longer. Try to avoid pushing yourself intellectually in your time off - now would be a good time for things like colouring in, or playing solitaire or listening to music, or other recreations which don't require you to be doing much thinking. Re-read favourite books (the ones which are sort of like chewing gum for the mind - the ones where you can just sit back and let the story flow over you and not have to think for a bit).

4) If you're feeling constantly anxious, panicking over things, start asking yourself these questions:
  • What am I actually worried about? Write down a list, if you feel the need - often one of the underlying "anxiety" processes is a worry that you've forgotten something important that you were worrying about. Writing a list of worries helps defuse that one. Writing a list also helps pin down what you're worried about
  • Are these things I'm worried about things which are certain to happen (for example, "the sun is certain to rise tomorrow"), things which are probably going to happen ("the sun will rise in the east"), or is something which is technically possible, but not necessarily feasible ("the sun will rise in the north")? Put more energy into dealing with the things which are certain, or probable. Things which are only possible aren't worth worrying about until they ascend the ladder of probability.
  • What can I do about this problem right now, right this minute? It is likely the answer will be "nothing". If you are unable to do something about the problem, then worrying about it isn't going to help anyone. Least of all yourself. Start intervening actively in your worry loops, and diverting your thoughts elsewhere.

Intervening in worry loops is a skill - which means it can be learned, and it will improve over time. What it involves is three things: recognising you're stuck in a loop, stopping the loop, and changing the mental subject. Recognising you're stuck in a loop starts by recognising you're anxious in the first place - and again, the questions above can help there: start at "what am I worried about?". Does the same subject come up repeatedly? In that case, you're stuck in a loop. Stopping the loop involves catching yourself in the worry, and quite literally choosing not to pursue it - and the easiest way to do this is by changing the mental subject. I've found things like multiplication tables useful for me when I'm trying to do this - start at 1x1 and work up to 20x20, and if I make a mistake, I have to go back to 1x1 again and start over. Or play "FizzBuzz" with yourself (count from 1 to as high as you go, replacing every number divisible by 5 with "fizz" and every number divisible by 7 with "buzz" - again, make a mistake and you have to start over).

Oh, and while you're anxious, accept you're not going to be 100% on the intellectual side. You have the anxiety sitting there occupying mental cycles, and this is going to affect your mental processing speed in the same way having an anti-virus program performing a scan affects the performance of a computer. Things are going to be slowed down, and take a bit longer to run. Be kind to yourself while this is happening - brains are much harder to reboot than computers.

5) If you find you're really sunk into a negative frame of mind, unable to see any positives in life, I offer the following tip which has worked for me. Get a notebook. Into that notebook, each day, write three things which went right. Note the phrasing there: it's "things which went right" as opposed to "things which went wrong". At present, you're probably going to have problems with things like "positive" or "good" or "happy" - it's impossible to spot those things when the emotions are right off the radar. But when you're feeling like this, trust me, you can spot everything which is going wrong in your life - and that makes it easier, in turn, to spot the things which aren't. Doesn't have to be a big thing - a hot drink on a cold day, or even the thought of not having to be outside in rotten weather is enough. But you have to find three things each day which went right, and write them down in the notebook.

Please note: this isn't going to perform an instant transformation on your mood. It isn't supposed to perform an instant transformation on your mood. What it is intended to do is perform a gradual transformation and build the habit of not looking on the dark side all the time.

In conclusion, I will leave you with this truth: believe me, you CAN get through this bad spell of mental weather. What you're experiencing now, in the aftermath of a terrible shock in world events, is what a lot of mentally ill people live with on a constant basis. Yes, the real world events are terrible. But you cannot let these real world events rule you to the extent that you give up living, give up hoping, give up working toward change. What I've offered here is a collection of coping tips which worked for me to allow me to do this. I'm hoping they'll work for other people as well.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Friday, October 2nd, 2015 04:15 pm
I'm not going to go into huge detail about this one (save to note that so far this year, there have been more mass shootings in the USA than there have been days in the year). Instead, I'm going to concentrate on some things which could be tried to stop these things from happening (or at least slow down the rate of them) without necessarily altering gun laws.

Detail under fold )

Now, none of these three things is going to drastically drop the number of mass shootings immediately. If you want an immediate impact on the number of mass shootings in the USA, then it's going to have to be done through gun control laws, just the same as everywhere else on the planet. But in the medium-to-long term, and particularly if you have the NRA and their paid-up politicians remaining as stubborn as ever on the issue, then these measures will help.

So start speaking to the media firms. Start speaking to your political candidates. Start demanding change.

Ignore the idiots who say "it's too soon" - as I pointed out above, you're currently averaging better than 1 mass shooting per day. How many do there need to be before things change? Ignore the fools who accuse you of "politicising the issue. Shootings like this are essentially about power - which means they're political from the get-go. The choice to do something about preventing them is a political choice, I'll grant you - but so is the choice not to.

It's up to the people of the USA to make it clear they don't want to see this happening. And the best way to start is by denying these little dickweasels who want to exhibit their sense of entitlement, their sense of personal power, the attention that they so desperately crave.
megpie71: Vincent Valentine pointing Cerberus toward the camera (BFG)
Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 08:35 am
The siege is over, three people (including the original hostage-taker) are dead, and the dust is starting to settle. Including, one must point out, the rather colossal amount of bulldust stirred up by the whole business in the media.

When I first heard about the siege, my first thought was "well, this is convenient, isn't it?".

Why was it convenient? Well, to start with it completely buried the MYEFO statement, something the Abbott government must be sighing with relief over (for our "the dog ate my homework" government, this must have seemed like the equivalent of Teacher calling in sick!). For seconds, it gives our PM a chance to look all concerned and serious on the telly, making statements about how the besieger had "a political motivation"[1] and so on. For thirds, it gives the tabloidosphere something to really chew on for the next few months (anyone want to bet we're going to be hearing a lot about Islamic "terrists" from the shock-jocks, the talk-back tabloids, and the Murdoch media? No takers?). For fourths, it neatly justifies all that extra money the government was handing ASIO a few months back. For fifths, it also neatly justifies any amount of crackdowns on public speech critical of the government, "undesirables", public protest and so on. The sixth useful thing it does is justifies increases to police funding (especially "elite" "counter-terrorism" units).

I can't help but think of the last time we were put under an increased security regime (under the Howard government, in the years following the September 11 2001 attack in the USA). At the time, one of the things people were saying was that there was no evidence of terrorist activity in Australia, and all this extra security theatre was a waste of money. People were saying the same things earlier this year when the government effectively doubled ASIO's budget. Will they be saying it now? Probably not as loudly...

And the MYEFO is still buried deeper than a dead thing.

The man who took the hostages, Man Haron Monis, is being demonised in the press. He's already being labelled as being mentally ill[3][4]. He had a history of violence and imprisonment (according to his lawyer, he was harassed and bullied in prison) as well as a string of charges against him. He also had a history of extreme ideology, but there's a strong thread running through things that this man was acting alone. He wasn't likely to have been part of an organised terrorist cell - indeed, he's just the sort of person a serious organised terrorist movement wouldn't want within a thousand miles of their active cells. But do you want to bet we're still going to see an increase in security theatre to prevent organised terrorist activity - one which will, purely coincidentally, result in a crackdown on "undesirables" (including the mentally ill) and public speech criticising the government?

It seems this siege was the action of one deeply troubled man with a history of violence. But it was still incredibly convenient for a lot of people, and I have no doubt they're going to be exploiting it to the fullest.


[1] I'm sorry, but I wouldn't trust the PM telling me the sky was blue without looking out a window to make sure, or to tell me water was wet without turning on a tap to check - to put it at its most charitable, his perception of reality is so very different to the consensus one it seems sensible to ensure his statements are well benchmarked against checkable data[2].
[2] To be less charitable, the man is a lying liar who lies and who wouldn't recognise the truth if it bit him on the bum.
[3] I'm mentally ill myself. The majority of mentally ill people are no more likely to commit violent acts than the rest of the population. Instead, they're more likely to be victims of violence.
[4] What I'm really disliking in seeing a lot of comments about this story in a number of places is the strong link being made between mental illness and any form of socially unacceptable or merely disliked behaviours. You don't have to be mentally ill in order to be an arsehole, and gods above the people making such comments are proving this in spades!
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 11:46 am
I have chronic endogenous unipolar depression. This is a technical medical term. Chronic means my depression is always there, as background noise in my life. Endogenous means there is no identifiable "reason" for my depression other than "my brain hates me and wants me to be miserable". Unipolar means I get major depressive downs, but I don't get manic highs.

Continued below the fold )

Employing me, or someone like me, requires a workplace which allows me to vary my workload in order to cope with the changing mental weather. It requires a workplace where my boss is going to accept me saying "I'm having a bad week at the moment; can I please not be put in customer-facing situations unless it's absolutely necessary" without either complaining, attempting to force me into situations I've said I'm ill-equipped to handle, or attempting to guilt me into performing according to their plans. It requires a workplace where I'm allowed to say "I'm feeling overloaded, can I go home?" (and where there's an acceptance this point may well occur twenty minutes into the working day). It requires a workplace where I don't feel required to meet the performance standards set by persons who don't have my rather interesting set of obstacles to performing at capacity. It requires, in short, a workplace which Western Capitalist society is profoundly ill-equipped to supply.
megpie71: AC Tifa Lockheart looking at camera, very determined (Give me the chocolate & nobody dies)
Sunday, May 25th, 2014 04:10 pm
1) Can I re-iterate a call for the name of the shooter to be buried in obscurity, while the names of his victims are memorialised? This would be a far more fitting treatment of these sorts of crimes than the current practice of focussing on the person who committed the crime to the exclusion of the persons who were harmed by it (and, let's be honest, to the exclusion of the persons this fool meant to be harmed by his actions: namely, all women who have ever turned down a self-professed "nice guy" for whatever reason). Why give this bloke the publicity and notice he so dearly wanted?

Instead, let's remember and commemorate Katherine Cooper, Veronika Weiss, Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez, and his other victims (as yet unnamed to the public).

2) Can we stop demonising the mentally ill for these sorts of crimes? I agree, the guy probably had issues. I agree, he had Aspergers Syndrome, which is one of the autism spectrum of disorders. However, he is not likely to have had a single diagnosed severe mental illness, he is highly unlikely to be provably compulsive or psychotic (i.e. he is NOT likely to have been in an altered mental state) at the time of the shooting, and he is more than likely to be found to be legally sane (that is, he was capable of perceiving the distinction between moral and immoral actions) at the time of the shooting.

The vast majority of people with diagnosed mental illnesses (including the vast majority of people with diagnosed psychotic schizophrenia, and diagnosed compulsive disorders, not to mention the vast majority of people who exist on the autism spectrum somewhere) manage to get through their lives pretty much without perpetrating acts of violence on other people. Indeed, the vast majority of persons with diagnosed mental illnesses are more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators.

The issues this bloke had were not to do with an altered mental state, with his reported autism spectrum disorder, with a compulsive or psychotic disorder, or with an emotional disorder. They stemmed far more from his attitudes of entitlement and misogyny. Which leads to my next point...

3) Can we label these sorts of crimes (mass shootings, performed by a single perpetrator, often from an ambush location, at a single point in time, generally without a particular target of preference) as being what they are: crimes of entitlement. I call them crimes of entitlement because the vast majority of the perpetrators for these crimes are white men. There have been a few such crimes perpetrated by black or Asian men. NONE have been perpetrated by women. They're crimes performed largely by people who have structural advantages in our society, and who feel they are hard done by because they don't get the "perfect" life they feel they're owed by the universe. They generally aren't high achievers, they blame other people for their own failings, and they generally "peak" into homicidal activity like this at two possible ages - there's one group who bombs out shortly after high school, usually by their early to mid twenties (and the shooter for this latest incident fit the mould perfectly; he was not even original in his dysfunction), and another group which tends to bomb out in their mid-to-late forties. In both cases, it's because they realise they aren't going to get the life Hollywood promised them they were due as straight white men, and in both cases, their actions are because they think their selfish anger at this "betrayal" is much more important than anything else.

In both cases, these people are more likely to either suicide themselves, or commit "suicide by cop" rather than face up to the consequences of their actions. Again, our shooter in this case fit the mould to a "T". He was not unique, he was not some special snowflake, and regardless of his stated "reasons" for his crime, the status of his family or any of the other things people will pull out in order to pretend this crime was somehow "different", he was no different to the last such insignificant wanker to commit such a crime, nor any different to the next one. Which leads to my final point:

4) Can we please have this discussion with and within the USA where we mention that maybe, just maybe, making guns harder to acquire on a national basis might knock the number of these crimes which occur there right the way down? Because this is a VERY AMERICAN CRIME. Everywhere else an incident of this sort occurs, there's immediate action to prevent it from recurring. Gun laws are imposed or tightened up; rules on who can obtain a gun are imposed or tightened; enforcement of existing laws is stepped up; all of these efforts are made to ensure the next time some thoughtless yahoo feels his insignificance is a massive burden, he hasn't got the easy recourse of taking a gun and shooting people randomly in order to get his name in the papers. Only in the USA is this kind of crime treated as something which is apparently unable to be prevented.

Quite frankly, as I've said before, I'm starting to lose sympathy. Yes, these individual events are terrible. But really, there is a solution to the problem, and it's one which has been proven to work quite successfully everywhere else.
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Less obstacles)
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 06:40 pm
Okay, I've written a lot about my depression on my various blogs over the years, and mostly it's been the "screaming silently in text" type of post which is all about how horrible I'm feeling at the present moment and all the rest. Today, it's a bit different.

Today, I'm going to talk about something I've been doing for nearly two months now, which I'm finding is helping me with my depression.

It developed out of a bit of thinking that came to light in about mid-May, when I realised one of the things depression did for me was it made it very difficult for me to see the positives in what was going on around me (and thus made me very cross with people who said "look on the bright side", because as far as I was concerned, there wasn't one). Given my natural state of mind, I'll see the negatives, spot the rain cloud surrounding the silver linings, and always, always note not only is the glass half-empty (if that), it's also a dirty glass and there's a chip in the rim. I'm a natural for disaster planning, because I'm automatically looking on the bleak side of life, and preparing for the worst to happen. As a job skill, it's probably invaluable if I can just get into the correct field.

However, as a life-long habit, it sucks rocks through a straw. So I decided what I needed to do was start noticing when things went right, and writing those down, if need be. I tried it for a bit back in June, and it seemed to help - certainly it's harder to think everything in your life is going wrong if you have a list of things which went right. However, the notebook I was using in June for this was my general "stuff" notebook (the one I started up as an adjunct to my memory, which is starting to get a bit spotty as I get older), and I found I was forgetting to write things down each day.

So, in September, I bought another notebook, and designated this as my specific "What Went Right" notebook. At present, I only have one rule: I have to write down at least three things every day which went right, or were good about each day. No maximum number, but a minimum of three per day. I haven't missed a day yet (although I'll admit there are some days when I filled in the three things from the day before early in the morning of the next day), and looking back over the book, it makes for interesting reading. On days where I know I'm going to be stressed, I'll tend to keep the book with me, and fill in things as soon as I notice them.

I'm finding it does help with the depression, because I'm deliberately looking for the positive things, and for the things which went right, and writing them down when I spot them. It's harder to focus on the negatives when I'm looking for the positives - and it's harder to forget the positive things when I've written them down for future reference.

What this doesn't do: it doesn't change my underlying mood. If I'm miserable, I'm still going to be miserable, but I have to find at least three things during the course of even the most miserable day that went right - even if it's just something as simple as "I got out of bed"; "I ate something"; or "I didn't kill myself (or anyone else) today". (There're quite a few entries which basically consist of "the weather is horrible, but I'm not outside in it")

What this does do: it encourages me to recognise the things which went right, or the little things which were good about the day, even on days when things are absolutely catastrophically horrible. (There're at least a couple of entries which are me putting a good face on frustrating things which happened on a particular day; things like "my employment services provider did see me, eventually" or "found the limitations of the Centrelink appointments system").

Why I think this works for me: I'm fond of practical things I can do to deal with my condition (and I'm sorry, but referring to it in such a manner makes me think of the old codger in the Avengers speaking to Bruce Banner - "Son, you got a condition!" - which always makes me grin). The goal is easy to reach (a minimum of three things per day that went right, or that were good about the day). There's only the one rule (I have to put down at least three positive things or things which went right per day) and it's an easy one to stick with, even on the worst days. No rules about what counts as positive, or what counts as going right - it's a day by day decision.

I don't know whether anyone else will find this helpful. But I know it helps me, so I'm putting it out there as something which might help others. The notebook I'm using is a little A6 sized spiral-bound "Colour Hide" one (with a bright shrieking pink cover), and I'm keeping my place with an elastic band around the unused pages.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (Head!Tardis)
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 09:50 am
Your government is like your operating system for your country. Now, there are a lot of different OSen out there, some better suited to their purpose than others. The US government is basically a very old, very buggy version of RepresentativeDemocracy (RepDem) 1.51, complicated by the problem that you haven't been applying upgrades for a long, long while (I think the last attempt to patch the US OS was the Equal Rights Amendment patch, and it got rejected by the buggy hardware even though the majority of the programs running on the system support it, as well as it being a major requirement for a lot of world networking). Basically, your country is running on a fairly old and buggy legacy system.

(By comparison: The UK is running some kind of bastard hacked-together hybrid of Monarchy 3.5 and Westminster 1.314; Australia is running Washminster XP; France is on Republic 5.0; and New Zealand is trying some sort of Linux-derivative thing called MMP 1.0)

Your system has currently wedged. One misfiring process has managed to wedge the entire system such that nothing is capable of happening. Your country is currently sitting there with the blue screen of death blinking at them, showing a large amount of hexadecimal gobbledegook, which is only really useful to a constitutional lawyer or other such systems architect. Some of the less major processes (the ones running the display etc) are still running behind the scenes, because they're handled by separate data paths, and don't need access to the CPU to operate. But the majority of functionality is gone. For ordinary users, a reboot would fix this - switch the whole system off, replace some of the defective components in the hardware, and restart. Unfortunately, the OS controls the power supply (which is really poor design, by the way) and since the OS is wedged, you're not able to even partially reboot until a scheduled outage in 2014.

My guess, as a former tech support type, is that your system appears to have a serious viral infection - it looks like you have a serious infestation of all of the neo-Con group of viruses, ranging from Objectivism, through (g)libertarianism. Gods, you've even got anti-Communist hysteria running on there, and that's a really ancient one which doesn't even RUN on most systems these days - it's been obsolete since about the mid-nineties. This is causing the system to hang when you attempt to install a working anti-virus program (your current anti-virus isn't working; it's been corrupted by the neo-Con viruses to the point where the OS doesn't supply necessary resources to a lot of programs in order to prevent virus infection).

Ideally, you need to restart your system in safe mode, install an up-to-date anti-virus program, scan your entire system to root out or at least quarantine the Neo-Con viruses, including that really weird "NRA" variant you have in there, and then restart things gradually, to see whether you've rooted out the worst of the problem.
megpie71: Vincent Valentine pointing Cerberus toward the camera (BFG)
Monday, March 25th, 2013 08:32 am
(Or indeed to anyone else saying any of a number of victim-blaming things about the young woman who was raped by the rapists in question).

I've been reading a bit about the Steubenville rape event in various blogs and articles. Not too much - I'm not really in a psychological space where I can take the stress at the moment - but enough to get an idea of what's being said. I'm hearing an awful lot about the victim of this rape - about things she should have done, things she shouldn't have done, attitudes she should have held, behaviours she should have avoided. Things she could have done to avoid being raped, and thus avoided this whole mess coming to light, and "ruining" the lives and careers of two young men who apparently thought rape was a permissible thing, and bringing to light an entire town subculture wherein being part of the high school football team gives a person social licence to act as though the normal rules of society are not applicable.

The young woman in question was going to a high school party where members of the local high school football team (who were local heroes, and from what I can discover, practically deified in the local area) were going to be present. I sincerely doubt she thought of herself in context as "a sheep among the wolves". These were people she went to school with. People she attended classes with. People she knew. She most likely thought of herself, if anything, as a human being among other human beings.

She thought she was safe. She didn't know she wasn't safe. She found out AFTER THE EVENT she hadn't been safe.

How the bloody hells was she supposed to have known she'd be targeted for this sort of thing? How was she to know nobody would be looking out for her? She thought these people were her friends. She thought, more importantly, she was their friend, that she mattered to them. She found out, sadly, she wasn't their friend, and they weren't her friends, in the worst possible way.

And victim-blaming strangers say "she should have known better than to get drunk in the presence of rapists". SHE DIDN'T FUCKING KNOW SHE WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF RAPISTS, YOU SELF-IMPORTANT FOOLS!. She thought she was in the presence of friends.

Now, I learned at a very young age I couldn't trust other people to be looking out for me. I learned at a very young age if someone said they wanted to be my friend, they were most likely either attempting to lull me into a false sense of security, or trying to trick me outright. I learned I can't trust other people to stand up for me, to stand by me, or to take my side.

I know I'm broken.

But I'm broken in possibly the only way that might have protected this young woman from what happened to her. If she'd been broken in the same way I'm broken, she probably would have been suspicious of an invitation to such a party. She would have either said no outright, or more likely she would never have been asked to the party in the first place (because the kinds of bullies who are adept at setting up victims get pretty good at recognising the ones who won't take the bait).

You know what? I wouldn't wish my brokenness on anyone, not even my worst enemy. But you seem to think this is a necessary and vital state for all young women who want to be able to avoid rape.

I'm broken. I'm unable to function as a social animal, because I can't trust people. I'm able to fake it for a bit, but I will never let people close to me. I'm broken, and I'm child free by choice, and I've made the deliberate decision that my line of brokenness stops with me, because I know I'm not capable of functioning as a parent or a caregiver. I'm constantly depressed, I'm constantly miserable. I wake up every morning and my first thought every morning is "oh damn, I'm still not dead".

And you seem to think my state is somehow a desirable and necessary one for other people to be in, so they can avoid being raped.

From the depths of my misery, I LOATHE you.
megpie71: Sephiroth holding Masamune ready to strike (BFS)
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 07:57 am
This is from the Meetup.com page of a writers meetup group I was attending. It had been going for maybe about six weeks now.

"This is a group for both writers and aspiring writers. Our aim is to help potential authors understand the basic elements of creating a great story, how to bring that story to fruition, and finally how to create the best chance of becoming a published author. I feel that the initial aim of the group has not been fulfilled. Good luck to the fan fiction people in the group but the group was founded for people who wanted their own original work to be published and that is not possible with fan fiction. Best wishes. [Organiser's name redacted for privacy]"


The italicised text is the stuff which is new today. The bolded text is the stuff which annoyed the hells out of me.

I was the only person in the group who stated they were actively involved with fan fiction. I was also the only person in the group who'd attended all the meetings scheduled, aside from the organiser. There'd been about ten to twelve people other people involved, and yeah, there were problems (mostly to do with the venue and the noise levels there).

However, I wasn't monopolising the group. I wasn't demanding everything should be about fanfic. I wasn't expecting everyone else switch to writing fanfic. As far as I know, I wasn't doing ANYTHING which merited the whole damn group being closed down. And I really resent being effectively blamed for the closure.

Now, if nobody minds particularly, I think I'll go work out my anger by beating up kobolds and bugbears in D&D Online.

[Later note: having talked to my partner about the whole thing (he'd attended one meeting) I got a different perspective on things. His belief was the organiser of this group was attempting to form the whole thing as a way of getting groupies, in effect (he'd had a book conventionally published, and tended to bring this up every meeting), and my attempts to be helpful and participate (putting up links to writing on writing by other writers in the forums, offering to help out with problems with the meetup.com interface etc) were read as being threats to his leadership. In which case, the whole thing starts to look like someone cutting off their nose to spite their face. In either case, he still probably would have been better off by writing a private email to me, rather than shutting down the whole group. I still feel angry about the group having been cancelled, resentful at effectively having been blamed for the cancellation, and rather upset about having received this virtual slap in the face first thing in the morning.]
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Less obstacles)
Thursday, September 13th, 2012 10:26 am
It's R U OK Day here in Australia. It's a national day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues.

So hi, I'm Meg, and at the moment, I'm not OK.

I have chronic endogenous clinical depression. Chronic means this is long-term, it isn't something that's going away any time soon. Endogenous means there's no readily apparent "reason" for why I'm depressed. Clinical depression is the name of the mental illness I have, and as the previous two sentences point out, I don't just have this illness one day a year. It's for life, not just for today.

At the moment, I'm having one of my periodic "black" times. I'm dealing with a depressive attack, which means I'm displaying all the symptoms of depression. I'm feeling vulnerable, self-critical, guilty about long-past offences, unable to be cheerful, unable to find happiness, worthless, useless, hopeless, and I have recurrent thoughts about how I (and the world at large) would be better off if I were dead. Or in other words, I'm depressed. Again.

I've been feeling more or less this way for most of the past two weeks, and I'll probably continue feeling this way for at least another week and a half. I'm not doing much by way of housework, and I'm having to struggle to keep up with my university commitments. I have a lot less energy than I used to have, and while I'm feeling tired all the time, I'm also not sleeping well (I'm dreaming a lot more, and my sleep is a lot more physically restless than it used to be - I woke up this morning with my covers all pulled loose, which is a pretty good indication that there are problems). I'm irritable, and the person I'm most irritated with is myself.

How do I know all of this? I know it because I've been dealing with the depression since I first started going through puberty (my first real feeling of dealing with suicidal impulses was back when I was about ten or eleven, and it just kept going from there). I'm in my forties now, and I'll probably be dealing with this until I die. So I've learned to deal with it.

I've tried multiple anti-depressants. They don't work for me. Or actually, that's probably mis-stating things. Anti-depressants don't work to deal with the sort of depressive episode I'm dealing with now - they're not for acute short-term treatment, because even the most rapid-acting of them take about a couple of weeks to build up to levels where they're going to be effective. The other side of it is that for me, taking antidepressants on a long-term basis is analogous to walking around on crutches all the time just in case I happen to break my ankle again. The effects of antidepressants - the loss of libido, the anorgasmia, the feeling of losing about half my emotional range (yeah, I don't feel as far down... but I lose all the up, too), the mental fogging that comes with doses strong enough to actually stop the depression in its tracks - all of those are a bit too high a price to be paying for the dubious privilege of not being depressed for the year or so it takes my brain to figure out how to be depressed anyway.

I'm also a bit sceptical about anti-depressants in general as well, mostly because we don't know how they actually work to treat depression. By which I mean: we don't know how reduced serotonin or norepinephrine levels, or strange dopamine levels, or odd amounts of endorphins at the neuron level affects things to make depression visible at the cognitive and emotional levels. It's in the bit of neuropsychology which could best be described as "Step Two: ????". There's also no diagnostic tests available to check neurotransmitter levels in the brain - instead, they have to be guessed at from behavioural and self-reported cues. Which means that the medication-go-round with mental health issues is mostly a case of "well, try this and see whether it works", and if it does work, well, that probably meant your levels of whichever neurotransmitter that one was supposed to be targeting were out of whack. Or something. Probably something.

So at present, I'm back to the tried-and-true strategy which got me through from early puberty until I was about thirty: I just bulldoze through it. Because here's the crucial bit: I've been living with depression since I was fairly young. So I'm used to it. I've accepted it's part of my life. I am going to have days where I'm going to wake up and think "oh damn, I'm not dead. Now what?". I am going to have whole weeks where the most I want to do is sit in a corner and cry. I am going to have months where fun just isn't on the agenda, because I don't know how to have fun. I'm going to be living a life where if someone tells me "just cheer up", I'm likely to shoot back with "how?", and actually get a certain amount of sadistic enjoyment out of watching as they flounder. I'm going to be living a life where the "think positive" types are going to receive a quick rundown of just how useless trying to think about the positives in the middle of a depressive storm is - as I've said elsewhere, I've tried it, and what happens is I wind up absolutely positive that the world would be a better place if I wasn't part of it.

So I get up in the morning, think "oh fuck, still not dead," and carry on. I have routines set up. I have an alarm which goes off at 8.30am every morning to remind me to get dressed, and to take my thyroid meds. I set myself limits on what I'm expected to achieve each day, and those limits are low - they're set for what I can achieve in the middle of the worst of the depression. I'm prepared for the days where I don't want to do anything, and where all I want to do is hide, and I give myself permission to take days where all I'm doing is sitting and watching a DVD, because any other form of intellectual or physical effort feels like too much.

It's like the weather. The storm will pass. I'll feel fucking rotten while it's doing that, and any obstacle is going to seem impassable, but it will pass.

So yeah. I'm Meg, and at the moment, I'm not OK. But I'll probably be OK in a couple of weeks. So that's OK.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (frustration)
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 06:42 pm
Couch potato lifestyle kills 5 million per year

PSA: People who don't drink, don't smoke, exercise regularly, don't take excessive physical risks, eat a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet, never let their BMI get outside the healthy range for their height, and have no history of heart disease, diabetes or cancer in their family background will still die.

Reducing inactivity by 10 per cent could eliminate more than half a million deaths every year - no, it won't. At best, it will delay these deaths. It will not "eliminate" them, because death is a natural process, part of the life cycle, and at last count, the number of immortal persons inhabiting this planet was approximately zero.

We will all die. I figure that by being the fat, lazy slob that I am, I'm at least making it easy on the medical practicioner who eventually has to fill in my death certificate.

I also suspect there are going to be a lot of rather affronted corpses over the next few decades - all these people who did all the right things all their lives, and yet still died - because the medical profession and the media have been selling this myth that death is somehow a preventable disease instead of being a developmental stage like puberty.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (Head!Tardis)
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 12:04 pm
First up, some context. I'm studying a couple of psychology units this semester in uni. For my Introduction to Psychology unit, I'm currently reading up in our textbook about the naure of the way that visual perception is handled by the brain (we're covering brains, sense and perception this week, yays!). So I'm reading through a whole heap of stuff about visual processing in the visual cortex.

Then I come across the bit about the various groups of cells which make up feature detectors in the brain. Here's the exact text I'm reading:

"Simple cells are feature detectors that respond most vigorously to lines of a particular orientation, such as horizontal or vertical, in an exact location in the visual field [...]. Complex cells are feature detectors that generally cover a larger receptive field, and respond when a stimulus of the proper orientation falls anywhere within their receptive field, not just at a particular location. [...] Still other cells, called hypercomplex cells, require that a stimulus be of a specific size or length to fire." (Burton, Weston & Kowalski, 2012, p143)

My brain immediately went to point due smut and produced an analogy with gaydar. Simple cells only detect "lines" of their particular orientation in specific circumstances - they can only be chatted up in a bar or at a club or wherever. Complex cells notice everything and anything that fits their particular orientation (and can presumably be propositioned anywhere). Hypercomplex cells are picky size queens, given they're requiring their stimulus of a particular size and length before they can fire...

I then had to stop and tell my brain to behave so I could continue on with my study.

I suspect I may have to ease off the slashfic for a while. It's hard enough trying to study psychology as it is (my brain keeps getting all intrigued by the various processes described in the textbook, and tries to slow down so I can watch things happening...), I don't need my brain talking with my ficbrain and bringing in my libido from gods know where (it certainly isn't talking to my reproductive bits) to giggle at things.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra says "The stupid, it hurts". (Rufus2)
Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 03:03 pm
Firstly, may I say congratulations to the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector for creating one of the biggest showings of unity I've seen online in nigh twelve years of using the internet. Couldn't have done it without you guys, although I'm sure you're hating to see it happen.

Secondly: a word of warning to the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector, as well as to Mr Murdoch's News Corporation and any other group who thinks these acts are Good Things overall. Should they go through, SOPA and PIPA aren't going to reduce the amount of copyright piracy occurring online by one tittle or jot. Yes, they may black out sections of the web, temporarily. But the pirates aren't going to let that stop them - they get their jollies from working around things like this in the first fscking place.

I foresee a certain amount of revival for a few of the older internet communications protocols - newsgroups may see something of a resurgence, along with mailing lists, and other forms of communication which aren't hosted by a single site, but which rather exist as an amorphous entity of ever-changing data being passed around from host to host, like the prize in a gigantic online game of pass-the-parcel. Good luck dealing with those, guys; I seem to remember that the thing which eventually took down a lot of the alt.binaries newsgroups wasn't any effort from the MPAA and the RIAA, but rather that web hosting was cheap, readily available, and distributed file sharing networks could handle things without too much strain.

But hey, guys, feel free to try and take down global email using lawyers if you really fancy re-running the labours of Heracles. Try killing NNTP. Have fun. It'll keep you all busy for a bit.

As has been said repeatedly: the internet as a whole, as an emergent entity, interprets censorship of just about any kind as damage, and figures out ways to route around it.

Thirdly: even if the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector should get their will, and kill the internet deader than a dead thing in a graveyard, I still won't be connecting my television up to the aerial or purchasing a Foxtel subscription. I still won't be turning on the radio to anything other than the ABC. I still won't be going to the movies. I still won't be buying any Australian newspapers on a regular basis. I still won't be getting magazines from Australian Consolidated Press or the News Corporation stables. And I won't be spending any money on those things for the same damn reason I don't spend money on them now: I refuse to let my money go where I'm not welcome. The news and entertainment sector here in Australia doesn't want to cater to me as a viewer, listener or reader, they just want to sell me as a potential set of eyeballs to advertisers. As a person, I'm not welcome in their world.
megpie71: Sephiroth holding Masamune ready to strike (Advertising)
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 03:08 pm
Once upon a time, a well-off city boy went out for a wander around the countryside to make his fortune. He came upon a group of (mainly) female peasants working in the fields, growing vegetables. Occasionally, these peasants would come across a rock in their field, and they'd pick it up and toss it to one side. Some of the rocks sparkled in the light. The city boy got curious, and inspected these rocks. Imagine his surprise when he realised the rocks were full of gold, and precious stones.

He started chortling and laughing to himself at the simplicity of the peasants, who were working so hard to grow vegetables when the real riches, the gold and the jewels, were just lying there, waiting to be picked up. He decided there and then to make his fortune.

So he approached one of the women labouring in the field, and offered to help her out. She could carry on with the gardening, he said, while he would clear the ground of rocks for her. The peasant woman, tired of hauling rocks for no return at all, and eager to return to harvesting her vegetables, agreed. So the city boy started to clear the rocks from the ground, piling them into bushel baskets and laughing at the ease with which he would make his fortune.

The day came to an end, and the peasants gathered up their baskets of goods and prepared to head home. The city boy picked up a bushel basket of gold and gems, and made his way to the edge of the field. But when he got there, the peasants blocked his path.

"What do you think you're doing?" one of them asked.

"I'm taking away these rocks and stones," said the city boy.

"You can't do that," the peasant said. "They don't belong to you."

"But I worked hard," the city boy cried, "removing these stones from your field all day. I deserve to have them as a reward for my hard work."

"If you want a reward," the peasant replied, "you can share in our vegetables."

"I don't want stupid vegetables," the city boy sneered. "I want these rocks I've been moving from your fields. You don't seem to need them, after all - why not let me have them?"

Upon hearing this, a number of the other peasants started to laugh. "You must think we're fools," they said. "We know you want the rocks because they're nuggets of gold and jewels."

"If you know they're gold and jewels," said the city boy, "then why aren't you selling them yourselves? They'd make a lot more money than stupid old vegetables."

"We don't sell them," the peasants explained, "because we don't own those fields. The fields belong to the dragon who lives in the tower over yonder. The dragon doesn't mind us growing our vegetables on his land, but if we take away his gold or jewels, he'll come down from the tower and slay us."

"I don't believe you," said the city boy. "In the first place, there's no such thing as dragons. In the second place, my father is a wealthy man, and he'd send out knights to slay the dragon if it slew me. The city would never stand for it if I were killed."

The peasants took a good, long look at the city boy. "The dragon has been engaged in battles against the Knights of the New Line, and every time they retreat. Years ago it forced the fabled Wizard from the coast to retreat. The dragon is real, and the dragon is jealous of its hoard."

"But the city would never stand for it."

"Which city are you from?" asked one of the peasants.

"Albia," the city boy said, proudly naming his home city. "Bring on your eagle-winged dragon, I fear it not."

At this, a number of the peasants hid their faces in their hands, trying to conceal either mirth or misery. "You're being a fool," they said. "Put the rocks down, and come have some vegetable soup with us, rather than trying to commit suicide in this particularly elaborate way. We've no liking for the idea of being killed alongside you because you were being a fool."

The city boy stopped, and considered his actions. It would grieve him greatly to have to give up the gold and jewels he could see right there. Besides, these were peasants, rural yokels. What would they know of dragons, or of anything other than their vegetables?
megpie71: Vincent Valentine pointing Cerberus toward the camera (Vincent 1)
Thursday, June 9th, 2011 02:47 pm
I've been thinking about this for a while, and I've decided I'll be better off with some kind of goal to work toward. However, knowing myself the way I do, I know if I write down a list of everything I want to achieve, I'll immediately try working on it all at once and get depressed when I find I can't do it all; or alternatively I'll set goals which rely on the behaviour of other people to achieve, and get even more depressed when I find them to be unachievable. So, for me, goal-setting is a tricky process.

So I've set myself a few guidelines for setting goals. The first is that any goal I set myself has to be achievable by me, preferably without relying on external assistance or input. The second is that my goals have to fit the basic criterion of being "little decisions" (from the Paul Kelly song of the same name: "Little decisions are the ones I can make/Big resolutions are so easy to break") - things which aren't about making huge changes, but rather about making small ones which can be built on. They also have to be things which I can be clear about having achieved or not achieved - the answer to "have I succeeded at this?" has to be expressible as a clear "yes" or "no", rather than "it depends what you mean by succeeded". I've also set myself a maximum number of things I have to be working on at any one time.

Below I've listed my preliminary aims.

Short - Medium term goals:

End Date: between 22 JUN 2011 and 21 DEC 2011 (ie between winter and summer solstices) I want to:

* Complete the knitted pashmina/poncho/wrap thingy I'm working on.
* Manage at least 80% compliance long-term for thyroid medication.
* Complete MAS167 at Murdoch University.

At some stage I want to:

* Try out Lauredhel's recipe for slow-rise bread
* Have a proper massage by a proper masseur
* Get my hair trimmed by a hairdresser.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Edward Elric is Scarred For Life (scarred for life)
Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 12:29 pm
Parents welcome ruling on bullying victim's suicide

The article I link to above is about a determination by a coroner in Victoria that a young man who killed himself had done so as a result of being bullied. It's an interesting enough article, and it raises some interesting issues about bully culture as it surrounds people.

It ends with a note that "If you are experiencing difficulties with bullying contact Lifeline on 13 11 14."

And I started to weep, because I'm a bullying survivor.

I was bullied by my peers, socially and emotionally, for twelve years. I was taunted, teased, degraded, abused, stalked, and pushed constantly throughout primary school and high school. I survived it, but mainly because I grew up in a family which had a strong history of chronic depression, and thus had a strong intra-family cultural taboo on suicide, self-harm, or any other form of behaviour which might bring the family to the attention of the authorities. Keep your head down, suck it up, and see whether you can fly under their radar; that's the family mantra.

I grew up thinking there had to be something inherently wrong with me, something which made those other children pick on me, something which made me a target. I grew up learning from my age peers the "normal" response to my existence was either outright aggression, masked aggression, or just outright denial of my humanity. If I had any friends at all, they were mistakes, errors, only putting up with me because they were outcasts too. If someone was being friendly to me, it wasn't going to last. If someone had my back, it was only so they could stick a knife in it more effectively. I grew up knowing this had to be the case, because if it wasn't... well, if it wasn't this meant that people were getting away with being deliberately cruel to me, for no other reason than "because they could". Easier to believe in my own inappropriateness than to believe in generalised acceptance of malice.

Bullying broke me.

I don't trust people even now. I particularly don't trust other women (and if you're a "popular" woman, you're going to have a lot of trouble winning even the slightest particle of trust from me, because I spent too many years being the target of the malice of the popular girls in school), I don't trust good-looking men, I don't trust people who have any sort of power over me, and I don't trust people who say they're my peers. I live my life on the lookout for the next knife in my back, the next attack out of the dark. I shadowbox my way through relationships. The closer a person gets to me, the more danger I'm in.

I expect to be bullied as a default state these days. It was the cause of a near-breakdown in my second year of university study, because I was so strung-out waiting for the other shoe to drop... prior to starting uni I'd never been in any educational environment where I hadn't been subject to some form of bullying, where picking on me because I was there hadn't been just an accepted part of the day.

I still wear the target on my soul. I found that out when I got my first full-time job in the public service, and was put in the charge of a manager who proceeded to play mind games, most likely with the deliberate intent of breaking me down. That job brought me as close as I've ever been to actual suicide, and I can still recall the absolute despair I felt at the thought of having to endure something like that all day, every day, for the rest of my life. The only reason I'm still here now is because my instinct for self-preservation overrode my lower-middle class upbringing (and led me to quit the job with no idea at all what I was going to do next). What that experience did for me was reinforced the half-understood lesson of my university days - that what had happened to me for twelve years of schooling wasn't a result of "kids being kids".

This is important: children don't bully because they're children. Bullies bully because they're allowed to get away with it, and they don't "grow out of" their bullying behaviours. They keep at it for as long as they're able, and they'll leave a trail of victims behind them. Oh, and they generally don't see themselves as doing anything harmful, either. They were "just having a bit of a joke" or "taking care" of their victim, or carrying out their actions "in the interests" of their victim.

I've never actually called Lifeline. I don't think they'd be interested in what I have to say. I doubt calling them would change anything, and it won't make the pain I still carry go away. I'm broken, and I doubt I'll ever be able to be fixed. I can paper over the cracks, I can pretend I'm functional, but underneath, there's still the little girl who doesn't understand why people are being so nasty to her without any reason. She's crying, and she's probably going to keep crying for the rest of my life.

My name is Meg, and I'm a bullying survivor.
megpie71: Sephiroth holding Masamune ready to strike (Compensating)
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 05:28 pm
(aka, my libido appears to have finally found a forwarding address for me)

Today has been the day for silly songfic images - I blame 96FM. They followed "Centrefold" by the J Geils Band (which got me thinking of "SOLDIER in the Centrefold", but more on that later) with "Ballroom Blitz" by Sweet. Now, having got kicked off thinking about naughty poses and SOLDIERs, I started listening to the lyrics and got to the bit about "... the man in the back said 'everyone attack' and it turned into a Ballroom Blitz"... and I had this image show up in my head.

"... the man in the back said 'everyone attack'"

I want this iconed, I really do.

SOLDIER in the Centrefold )

[Edited 22 JUN 2010 - fixing rotten spelling; I blame too much fanfic.]
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Monday, February 22nd, 2010 08:26 pm
Interesting day today. I had my first appointment with the counsellor at the university I'm attending (I went in to see them because the stress of the first week was making me feel as though I was falling to pieces. I probably still am). So of course, with it being the first session and all, there's the discreet questioning to find out whether I've been raped, assaulted, sexually abused, physically abused, whether I've been taking drugs, etc - basically to find out whether there is a REASON for my depression.

In my case, the answer is "actually, no." I've never been raped (I'm in the fortunate five out of six so far); I haven't been physically or sexually assaulted or abused; I've never taken drugs except for the ones prescribed to me (and at least one day out of every seven I don't even manage that). So there isn't a great big shining REASON for my depression I can point to and say "that's why I'm depressed". But try explaining this to the average layperson who doesn't have depression, and they look at me as though I'm even more crazy than I actually am - I can't just be this depressed without a REASON; it goes against all logical thought.

And hey, maybe there was a REASON, sufficiently far back down the family tree. Maybe four or five generations back one of those big ugly traumas did happen, and I'm getting the behavioural echoes passed on down the family tree through generation on generation of emotionally neglectful parenting. But I rather doubt it. My suspicion is that what's actually at the heart of all this is the fundamental neutrality of the universe - or to put it simply, sometimes bad shit happens to good folks.

This whole thing resonated with me a lot more than usual as a result of a post of Lauredhel's I'd read before leaving for the campus this morning, where she was responding to one of those standard "my partner wants to try $SEXUAL_ACT with me and I don't want to do it, what should I say?" responses in an advice column (or at least, that's what the sparking article reads as). In Lauredhel's response she points out that "Not every vanilla sexual preference is due to massive underlying psychological issssssssyews." - and that maybe what's needed isn't so much the compulsory searching for a reason why a person is saying no, and more of a willingness to just accept no as a legitimate answer on its own.

So maybe what's needed is a little less time spent searching for the massive, traumatic REASON for my mental illness, and a bit more time spent on dealing with the reality of its existence.
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Are you going to tell him?)
Saturday, February 20th, 2010 11:54 pm
For those who are unaware, Tony Abbott is the latest leader the Federal Opposition in Australia. He's been the leader of the Liberal Party for about a month or two now, and he appears to be trying for the title of World's Greatest Ventriloquist. I'd certainly give him the gong - he seems to be able to speak very clearly despite having both feet in his mouth up to about the knee at this point.

So far he's been demonstrating a wonderful "back to the fifties" ethos as the leader of the Liberals. Problem is he appears to want to go back to the 1850s as far as moral thinking is concerned, and maybe the 1650s for economic thinking.

His latest effort is a screed on the appropriateness of the death penalty.

I was particularly struck by this quote:

Mr Abbott says execution may be a fitting punishment for those responsible for mass death.

"Well, you know, what would you do with someone who cold-bloodedly brought about the deaths of hundreds or thousands of innocent people?" he said.


Well, gee. Usually I start with the phrase "vote the bastard out", and work my way along from there. Come to think on it, isn't that what the people of the United States did to their former President who fitted those criteria? It's certainly what the voters of the federal seat of Bennelong did to John Howard in the last election. But hey, Tones, if you wanna risk a death penalty for the job of being PM, feel free. Let's start it in your potential first term as PM, hmmm?