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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Some Things to Share

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Some Things to Share

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autumn leaf
It's officially autumn, y'all. Vermont's famous leaves have begun to change. Bobby and I drove down to East Burke last night (about 40 minutes south of us; Burke is the Northeast Kingdom's other ski resort along with Jay Peak) for dinner at an Italian cafe with the very un-Italian name The Foggy Goggle. It was amazing food, and we skirted Lake Willoughby early enough on our way down to see the leaves and then again just after sunset, when the water was still that vivid blue color like it can't quite bear to let go of the daylight.

*happy sigh*

Tonight, we will have our observance for Equinox, so I have to fit in all my computer stuff during the day. We're also hiking Vermont's worst-named mountain, Mount Hor, which is one of the two mountains that form the famed Willoughby Gap. (We accidentally hiked the other, Mount Pisgah, earlier in the summer.)

I'm not a big sharer of videos and links in this space, but I encountered a few things this week that won't leave me so what the heck.

This article from the Huffington Post, Why We Need To Talk About High-Functioning Depression, I felt was important to share in part because I see a lot of myself in this and possibly a lot of other high-achieving women. My mood issues have always been cyclical--soaring highs and crashing lows--but I've always resisted viewing this as anything more than a personal quirk because I'm obviously a high-functioning person, and as a psych major long ago, I was always taught that an inability to function was the most important criterion for psychopathology. For the record, I'm still not convinced that my cycling moods are more than a quirk, but this article was eye-opening because it does reframe how we view depression and people with depression.

I think it's especially important because people who are high-functioning are ... well, high-functioning! It's natural to equate someone's behavior or presentation with their inner state, as though our emotions are precisely reflected in our actions and don't undergo a lot of emotional and cognitive tinkering before being presented to the work. A good friend once mentioned to me that it was odd to see me talk about feeling insecure about my work because I project such confidence. That made me feel, for a little while, like I wasn't really feeling insecure and was maybe looking for attention or doing that thing we do as women when we try to downplay ourselves. Then I realized that wasn't what she was saying at all. I don't want to appear insecure in front of a class or when giving a presentation or even as the leader of fandom projects, so it's good that I don't, but what goes on in my head is no less real because it doesn't show to the world. This is the case too with my low moments; they don't stop existing because I can still teach a class or revise a paper (even though I might feel crushed by the end of the day).

The article talks of perfectionism and bitchiness, which often go hand-in-hand and the latter of which is a particular indictment of many accomplished women. (And both of which I am guilty of sometimes myself, although less so on the bitchy count now that we've moved to Vermont and I feel my life and time is much more in my control.)

I've experienced both: an actual major depressive episode in my early 20s where I wasn't always functioning at my best, and the lows I've had for years (which are payment for the immensely creative and productive highs), which I weather through without, I hope, really showing it on the outside. I wouldn't wish the first on my worst enemy, but the second ain't a picnic either, and it was nice to see my experience reflected somewhat in this article.

The last two things I want to share are both dance videos that are stunning and have not left my head and make me REALLY want to dance, skate, something again! The first is by the famous dancer Sergei Polunin, who was the youngest principal dancer in the British Royal Ballet. The dance was intended as a swan song to end his career in dance (although the response has also inspired him to continue, although not in traditional company ballet). Embedding has been switched off, so I have to link: Sergei Polunin, "Take Me to Church" by Hozier, Directed by David LaChapelle

The second is a story told in dance of connection and love. I found it while searching short films to use in teaching literary concepts to my students. It's obviously NOT school-appropriate but was mesmerizing, and I couldn't stop watching it. Embedding has also been disabled so another link: Sigur Rós - Valtari | Future Shorts

Go waste some time with these!

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • Sergei Polunin... WOW. I don't think gravity has the same effect on him as on other mortals.
  • Well, I did find that article interesting and perhaps useful to inspire me to practical action on some of the points. So, yeah, it gave me some things to consider, although I have know that about myself like forever. (There is a lot of Laura in that diagnosis also. Although because of our closeness I am not at all blind to hers.) I am happy you put up the link to the article. I think it is good to NAME things. I think it is important at very least to recognize them and consider that one is not alone and there might be ways of dealing instead of just shoving everything down and soldiering one. I always have felt (bitchy monster that I am) that people who are paralyzed by their depression get more study and consideration than those of us who are high-functioning and just keep on trucking while still hurting.

    The article talks of perfectionism and bitchiness, which often go hand-in-hand and the latter of which is a particular indictment of many accomplished women. (And both of which I am guilty of sometimes myself, although less so on the bitchy count now that we've moved to Vermont and I feel my life and time is much more in my control.)

    I can see that in you if I squint real hard. I am less perfectionistic as I grown older and have more limitations I have to deal with. I am not going to stop trying/working because I can't catch as many of my own typos. But I definitely have noticed I am cranky/bitchy when I am further into one of my slumps. For me the slumps were lasting longer so I did talk to my doctor about it and he gave me a mild anti-depressant. It worked a little--I hum softly while I work more often now! Ha! Still depressive, but maybe not as out-of-control sad and anxious! OMG! It's a lifelong process. Maybe I am more willing to accept not feeling terrific than I should be?

    I'm curious about what an autumn equinox observance is all about. I know I love fall. Today was our first fall day--cool in the morning and not getting past perhaps 70 as a high and the forecast for tonight is downright chilly. Alex and I are so happy. (Laura likes the summer!)

    Climbing a mountain always sounds like a lovely thing to do. In another lifetime, I did that whenever I could. I presume you will take your camera and share with us?

    I haven't watched the dance video yet, but will after I make lunch here. We are all starving now.
    • I think it is good to NAME things.

      I agree! When I studied psychology (admittedly as an undergrad and now going-on 15 years ago ... wow), pathology was intimately linked to function. I had a major depressive episode that I identified largely on the basis of its impact on my function: I didn't care much for my schoolwork! OMG! Continuing to sometimes feel rotten in the ensuing years wasn't enough to really matter (in my own mind).

      I think it's much easier to pay attention to the non/low-functioning people. After all, their lack of function has a societal impact. People like us? Really don't. We soldier on. We're easier to ignore.

      I can see that in you if I squint real hard.

      I'm assuming you're talking about the bitchiness! It's much easier to keep in check online, although I do slip up sometimes. Rhapsody and Russa have more than once answered an SWG email, thankfully before I had the chance because my response would have been ... not as nice.

      But that is pretty rare because it is easier to walk away and hold it in check online. Or the bitchiness doesn't come across when people are used to me being nice. When I was back in Maryland, I felt guilty over how mean I could sometimes be to Bobby--perhaps the kindest and most generous person I know, who is in so many ways to thank for the fact that I DO function as well as I do--and I was also getting to that yelling-at-the-other-driver stage of rage at the world.

      I am almost not bitchy here in Vermont, although working with middle schoolers may eventually change that! :D (As if my previous students were angels!)

      It's interesting because, again, as a young psych student, we always learned that women tend to internalize mental illness and men externalize, which is why women will cut and self-harm and men tend to lash out aggressively. Yet this is external behavior: I wonder if the connection is less to do with gender and more to do with one's function or perceived role, i.e., I was not at a place where I could "afford" to internalize depression the way that I did in college.

      I'm curious about what an autumn equinox observance is all about.

      We observe the four solar holidays and the four Celtic cross-quarter days (Imbolc, Beltainne, Lughnasadh, and Samhain). Agnostic and deist that we are, our observances focus more on awareness of the Earth and the seasons, so we try to do something outdoors on that day. We cook a meal together from all local ingredients (which is most of our meals now but when we first started years ago was something difficult to achieve and so really special). We take the evening off from technology. We have a little thanksgiving ceremony and usually do some readings together, either stuff that we've written or texts that we found appropriate for the season. (We read Robert Frost and William Blake for this one.)

      We've been doing this for years, although we stopped for some time in Maryland, right before we moved. In fact, we both realized we needed a change when we stopped having time once every six weeks to be thankful and take an afternoon and evening to celebrate the season. It's pretty sad when one can't even take that.
    • We have a little thanksgiving ceremony and usually do some readings together, either stuff that we've written or texts that we found appropriate for the season. (We read Robert Frost and William Blake for this one.)

      That all sounds absolutely lovely--the being outside in nature and the break from technology and the seasonal feast of local ingredients.

      My moves are from slightly low-key, to sullen, to downright witchy and bitchy! My Live Journal rants over the years might be a way to track my mood flutuations--god forbid a fandom wank should intersect one of my downward spirals! Normally, I think the worst of my depressive spells result in no communication at all. So, as long as I am popping in with photos and even a few rants probably means I am surviving although not necessarily painlessly!

      New York City is not necessarily the best spot for me, but neither was Northern California with its lifestylism. Vermont sounds great if one is operating as part of a team. I loved Mexico, but left when my ex- and broke up, because it seemed kind of overwhelming for a single mother with a youngish kid. To my reckoning, I felt like I needed a team of two at least to operate a household with the roughing-it aspects of a lower-middle-class Mexican lifestyle and income.
      • Vermont sounds great if one is operating as part of a team.

        I would agree. Bobby has handled almost entirely the process of transitioning to our new home. And you know him: He's so friendly and likable that the way business is done around here is really natural for him. He'll stand around a sawmill for an hour chatting with the guy who did the timber for our fence. He's invited the contractor who fixed our foundation over for dinner. We hang out with our real estate agent. I just don't do well with these kinds of things. I'm so grateful to have him.

        And for the manual labor too! He loves that kind of stuff. Me? Not so much. I love playing in the garden or with the compost but mostly for the intellectual exercise of applying my knowledge and seeing it work or the fine detail work of weeding, picking bugs off plants, harvesting, etc. He loves building and making things, which is a really great skill to have here.
    • Compared to me (and most people!) you are not bitchy at all! Although toward the end of your last couple of years at that awful school you were beginning to be a little sharper tongued in some ways! Not with me. OMG! You are so patient with me. You and your iron-clad work ethic never ceases to amaze me and your patience with fandom crazies (myself included).
      • I refuse to lump you in as a crazy!

        I do well with unbalanced people, though. That's why I was such a good teacher of the kids I used to teach (some of my middle-schoolers now too; I have some kids with Issues who are currently very much at the boundary-testing stage with me). That's probably how I've survived 12 years in fandom too!

        But those years really did wear my patience thin in other areas of my life. (Along with enough confidence in general to trust that the world won't end if I piss someone off or someone doesn't like me. Thanks, Fandom, for that too!)
  • Mount Hor...*snicker* (I'm twelve i can't help it)

    The best time of year, autumn! One of these days I need to make it back to New England during this time...last time was the last summer my great-aunt was alive, in New Hampshire in 2001, so it has been too long! The leaves are all still green here but I'm hoping that will start to change soon.

    I'm bookmarking that depression article to read later...I have a feeling a lot of it will resonate with me, so I should prob be in a good place when reading it :P
    • I'm 12 too! Mount Hor jokes are endlessly fun (and easy. *rimshot*)

      I'm perpetually a fan of summer! Autumn is beautiful but also makes me sad, although I'm feeling it less this year, possibly because I'm in a better place than I have been for a while.

      I have to say that autumn weather in Vermont is effing wonderful: chilly nights and warm--not hot!--days. Kind of like I remember Maryland being when I was a kid, before summer lasted well into October.

      I expect the depression article will resonate with a lot of smart, accomplished women I know. :)
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