How Depression Made a Top Student a Failure


Depression Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.

As I stated in my v-log on depression, statistics posted by Huffington Post earlier this year show that 30% of college students report experiencing depression so severe that it disrupts their school work. I mentioned in the video that I was in that 30%.

What’s interesting to me is the timing of things – a couple of days before recording that video, I decided to request my transcripts from my university. Since I quit my day job, I have been asking myself, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” As I started down that line of thought, I requested my transcripts to take a look at where I had been and revisit those subjects I had been so passionate about in my younger years.

When I first started off at college, I was convinced that I wanted to be a print journalist. I even had dreams of being an investigative journalist who uncovered big government scandals in the vein of Watergate. Being a passionate writer, print journalism seemed like a natural choice for careers.

Unfortunately, I quickly became disheartened with what I was learning in my journalism classes. I quickly learned that sensationalism was the order of the day – “if it bleeds, it leads” – and preserving the First Amendment had fallen behind how much ad space you could sell (which in essence, morally ties you to the whims of the corporations who advertise with you).

I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. My vision of my future completely disintegrated under the weight of a capitalist media system which had no regard for someone like me – someone who just wanted to write and seek the truth. This realization coupled with the shock of a failed relationship and struggling with my own identity sent me drowning into an abyss.

I became very depressed. So much so, that I lost interest in writing and researching topics I had previously found interesting. I no longer wanted to be involved with the Society for Professional Journalists. I no longer want to go to my journalism classes. In fact, I no longer wanted to even get out of bed. Since I couldn’t will myself to get out of bed or take a shower, I stopped going to class. My anxiety reared its ugly head. Because I didn’t go to class, I knew I would have to talk to the professors, which caused me so much anxiety that my fight or flight response had me fleeing – in so much that I just avoided the whole situation by continue to be absent. I was close to flunking out of school.

In high school, in all four years, I received all As and one B. During this particularly dismal semester in college, I earned four Fs and one D. It was absolutely humiliating. SO humiliating that this is the first time in my life that I have allowed myself to be this candid about it.

I took time off to really think about which degree would really interest me. Along with writing, I was passionate about social issues and had a somewhat morbid fascination with criminals, serial killers in particular. I also took time to recover from the depression, stress and anxiety – on my own, which wouldn’t be as helpful as I thought.

With these insights, I finally went back to school and changed my major to Sociology, emphasizing criminology and deviant behavior.

The next four years were much different.

To be continued

Reading List for 2015


For those of you who haven’t checked out my Facebook page in a while, here’s a list of the books that I’ve read so far this year.

1. “Styxx (Dark Hunter World Book 22)” by Sherrilyn Kenyon – I started this one at the end of 2014 and finished in 2015. I give it 4 stars.

2. “The Reluctant Vampire (Argeneau Vampire Series Book 15)” by Lynsay Sands – 4 stars. This series is good for a quick paranormal read that focuses primarily on the romance side of things. What’s most intriguing about this series is the mythology that Sands has developed to explain the existence of vampires.

3. “The Darkest Kiss (Riley Jenson Guardian #6) by Keri Arthur – I REALLY like the Riley Jenson series. Think of an Anita Blake type character, only she is a vampire/werewolf hybrid, most emphasis on werewolf. Also like the later Anita Blake series, there’s quite a bit of sexual content. However, UNLIKE the later Anita Blake books, the Riley Jenson books focus primarily on the action of the store – there’s lots of sex, but it doesn’t get in the way of the plot. I highly recommend this series for anyone who is a fan of paranormal romance.

4. “Under a Vampire Moon (Argeneau Vampire Series Book 16)” by Lynsay Sands – 4 stars.

5. “The King (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series Book 12)” by J.R. Ward – 4 stars. This is actually a low star score for me to give a BDB book. I liked the history that she gave, but not all of it seemed relevant to the ongoing story. Plus there was not enough action with the Lessers. Still, an overall good book. I will say this – if there is anyone who could take the reins of the vampire genre from Anne Rice, it’s most definitely J.R. Ward.

6. “Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth” by V.C. Andrews – 3 stars. I admit, I expected a lot more from this one. I had really hoped that the book itself would be more focused on the diary itself, almost reading like the format of “Frankenstein” or “Dracula.” However, the main part of the story focuses on Kristin, a teenage girl who is a distant relative of the Dollanganger’s. She and her father find the diary, and it’s her reading of it that is the basis of the plot. For what it is, it’s a good story, but not a great one. I’m always a little hesitant about the newer V.C. Andrews’ books since they’re written by a ghost writer. However, they are still simple, easy YA reads.

7. “The Home and the World” by R.N. Tagore – 5 stars. This is an absolutely fantastic book. I would even give it more than 5 stars. The book focuses on many themes, mainly human nature and how it plays out not only in public life, but in relationships. The political strife of Maharaja India is juxtaposed with a love triangle, layered with personalities depicting the various perspectives of Self. If you can imagine a discussion between Buddha and Machiavelli, then you can imagine the greatness of this book. A particular note that this eloquent prose was written by a man who was a high school drop out – actually, he abhorred formal education. This is definitely one of those books that I will read again to learn even more those things that I might have missed the first time. Highly recommended!

8. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee – 5 stars. This is my favorite book of all time. When the story came out that Lee wrote a sequel set 20 years later, with Scout visiting her father, I just HAD to read it again. It’s just as good now as it was when I read it the first time.

9. “The Three Musketeers” by Alexnandre Dumas – 5 stars. I have made a commitment to read some of the classics that I didn’t read when I was younger – “The Three Musketeers” is the first. I absolutely ADORE this book. I should have read it much sooner! Action, intrigue, mystery, romance all liberally sprinkled with tongue-in-cheek comedy. I can definitely say that this is now, by far, one of my favorite books of all time! If you haven’t read it, do so – you won’t regret it!

10. “The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien – 5 stars. I love this book. And I have read it before. An embarrassing confession – I decided to read it again because I’ve never read “The Two Towers” or “Return of the King…”..or “The Hobbit” for that matter. My re-reading of “Fellowship” is my commitment to read these other works by such a wonderful fantasy author. The world that Tolkien creates is magical and easy to disappear into – just what is needed for a mental vacation!

11. “The Lady is a Vamp (Argeneau Vampire Series Book 17) by Lynsay Sands – 4 stars. This one is just as enjoyable as the other Argeneau books. I liked this one in particular because it introduces the circumstances of a nuclear mortal family and what the turn and immortal laws mean for life mates.

12. “The Walking Dead, Volume 1: Days Gone Bye” by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore – 5 stars. If you love the show, you’ll adore the comic. Great story telling, awesome art – better than the T.V. show in my opinion.

13. “The Walking Dead, Volume 2: Miles Behind Us” by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn – 5 stars. As great as ever. Love going back over the original story and seeing the differences with the T.V. show.

14. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 9, Volume 3: Guarded” by Scott Allie – 4 stars. Love Buffy, love that the story has continued in comic form. The comic is good, just not “The Walking Dead” great.

15. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 9, Volume 4: Welcome to the Team” by Andrew Chambliss – 4 stars. LOVE the appearance by Illyria. And Willow’s back!

16. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 9, Volume 5: The Core” by Andrew Chambliss – 4 stars. Wow. Just…wow.

17. “The Sandman, Volume 1, Preludes and Nocturnes” by Neil Gaiman – 4 stars. Brilliant storytelling. The level of imagination rivals that of Clive Barker.

18. “American Vampire, Volume 1″ by Scott Snyder and Stephen King – 4 stars. I admit, I’ve never really enjoyed Stephen King’s books, but this is definitely an exception. Love the subtle humor around horror vampires – no romance or sparkles here!

19. “Batman Eternal #1″ by Scott Snyder, et al – 4 stars. I’ve never been the biggest Batman fan – in the DC universe, Superman and Wonder Woman were always my go-to super heroes. But I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed “Batman Eternal” and will look to read more.

20. “Fathom, Volume 1″ by Michael Lane Turner – 5 stars. Wow. I’ve had this one for a while and just now read it. This is the best one I’ve read in a long time. The art is beautiful and the character development is intriguing. Definitely going to continue the series.

21. “Injustice: Gods Among Us #1″ by Tom Taylor, et al – 5 stars. Loving the story. Another one that I will definitely continue the series.

22. “Superman (2011) #1″ by George Perez – 5 stars. Superman. Enough said.

23. “Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale (Serenity #3)” by Joss Whedon – 5 stars. Love it! Love the story of the Shepherd and how it was presented in a brilliant reverse character development form.

24. “Son of No One (Dark Hunter Series #13)” by Sherrilyn Kenyon – 4 stars. I truly do love this series. Particularly how Kenyon interweaves the mythological worlds of Atlantis with the pantheons of the Celts and Greeks.

25. “The Walking Dead, Volume 3, Safety Behind Bars” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

26. “Angel & Faith, #5, What You Want, Not What You Need” by Christos Gage, et al – 4 stars.

27. “Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury – 5 stars. Wow. This book is a dystopian masterpiece! I enjoyed it more than Orwell’s “1984.” I like Bradbury’s writing style so much more. It’s not just prose. He has a rather poetic way of writing that I quite enjoy. And to think, this book was published in the 1950s! Much of the world he describes is what we’re seeing today. Amazing. Definitely one of my all-time favorite books now.

28. “The Walking Dead, Volume 4, The Heart’s Desire” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

29. “Serenity, #1, Those Left Behind” by Joss Whedon, et al – 4 stars.

30. “The Sandman, Volume 2, The Doll’s House” by Neil Gaiman, et al – 5 stars.

31. “Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel – 5 stars. This is a remarkable story by a very gifted comic artist. The story is personal, but as she would suggest, in being person, it’s universal. As she discusses her relationship with her mother, I see a lot of my own maternal relationships – both with my mom and my daughter. This book is one of those reads that I need to process it for a while, and most likely, read it again. I highly recommend it.

32. “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (Sleeping Beauty #1) by Anne Rice – 3 stars. I had read this book, actually the whole series, before and was not impressed. I thought after reading the horrible 50 Shades series I would give it another try – I had first read the Beauty series in my late teens. I couldn’t even get into it. I give it three stars because the writing style is indeed skillful and lovely. The story, however, is not to my taste. As I said when I was younger, it’s nothing more than print porn. There’s a huge market for that, but it’s not what I enjoy reading.

33. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: New Rules, Season 10, Volume 1″ by Christos Gage, et al – 5 stars ++. Oh. My. Goddess. “New Rules” is AMAZING. This is the first book in a LONG time that has gotten back to its roots and is truly reminiscent of the spirit of the TV show. Love it! Can’t wait until Volume 2 is released!

34. “Angel: After the Fall, Volume 1″ by Brian Lynch, et al – 5 stars.

35. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde – 3 stars. I LOVE Oscar Wilde’s writing style. I just could not get into this story. The way the plot was presented did not inspire me to care about any of the characters which made any of the circumstances they found themselves in rather lackluster.

36. “The Walking Dead, Volume 5, The Best Defense” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

37. “Serenity, #2, Better Days” by Joss Whedon, et al – 5 stars.

38. “The Sandman, Volume 3, Dream Country” by Neil Gaiman, et al – 5 stars.

39. “Celtic Myths and Legends” by Peter Berresford Ellis – no stars. I’m not rating this one because I actually stopped reading it. It wasn’t bad – it was written quite well, and the stories were interesting. It’s just that it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. This is one of those books that I might come back to later – my mind is just in a different place now.

40. “The Walking Dead, Volume 6, This Sorrowful Life” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

41. “Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom” by John O’Donohue – 4 stars. Again, this is a book that wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I was pleasantly surprised. I quite enjoyed it. My only issue with it is that the author often repeated the same concept, just worded differently, multiple times. This approach can be quite useful for people who have difficulty understanding the concept. For those without that difficulty, it can become rather tediously redundant.

42. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood – 5 stars. Wow. I know that some have often emphasized the satire of this book, but given the state of our world and the growing political climate, it might be more prediction than satire. The best way I know to describe it is feminist dystopia. I loved it. This classic is also one of my new all-time favorites.

43. “The Walking Dead, Volume 7, The Calm Before” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

44. “Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger” by V.C. Andrews – 4 stars. Wow. I still have some reservations about this book because of how much time is spent on the stories of the people reading the diary, but the revelations they make are quite intriguing. The ending of the book – oh, my! It was shocking, it both intrigued and made me happy…but more than anything, it has me excited for the next book.

45. “Saga, Volume 1″ by Brian K. Vaughan, et al – 4 stars.

46. “Sandman, Volume 4: Season of Mists” by Neil Gaiman, et al – 5 stars.

47. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen – 4 stars.

48. “The Walking Dead, Volume 8: Made to Suffer” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

49. “The Undead Pool (The Hollows #12) by Kim Harrison – 4 stars.

50. “Angel, After the Fall, Vol. 2: First Night” by Joss Whedon, et al – 4 stars.

51. “The Walking Dead, Vol. 9: Here We Remain” by Robert Kirkman, et al – 5 stars.

52. “Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures, Vol. 1″ by Laurell K. Hamilton, et al – 4 stars. I liked this quite well – possibly even more than the books!

53. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 5 stars. Brilliant writing! Fitzgerald’s style and turn of phrase is unmatched. Contemporary writers would do well in holding him as the standard. I know I will!

54. “The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You” by Neil Gaiman – 5 stars. Oh. My. Goodness. I think this is by far THE BEST Sandman book in the series! I connected with it SO much in how I used to create fantasy worlds when I was young. I still do – I just write them down into stories and novels now. Highly recommend this series!

55. “Avatar The Last Airbender: Shells” by Gene Luen Yang, et al – 4 stars. This one was good enough that I want to read more Avatar comics.

56. “Edward Scissorhands #1″ by Kate Leth, et al – 5 stars.

57. “Fight Club 2″ by Chuck Palahniuk, et al – 5 stars.

58. “Jem and the Holograms #1″ by Kelly Thompson, et al – 5 stars. SQUEE! This comic has SO much childhood nostalgia excitement bubbling over in me! Can’t wait for the rest of the series.

59. “Girlfiend” by Pander Brothers – 3 stars. I was quite disappointed by this one. Much of the art was really good. Although so much was going on in some panels that it got confusing. Sometimes I couldn’t even tell what was happening. The story was not interesting at all.

60. “Slaughter House Five” by Kurt Vonnegut – 5 stars. Again, this book is a classic for a reason. It’s one of the most powerful books I have read. Probably the most telling scene, to me, was the idea of what a war movie would be like if watched backwards, with the factory women disassembling weapons. Brilliant.

Confused by What Others are Hiding


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While I worked in the corporate world, I met and worked with many different people. Most of the individuals were very intelligent, talented, and inspiring. It was rare that I met someone that perplexed me as much as one of my co-workers in the last year of my employment with Amazon.

This woman was a little bit older. I first thought that she and I would get along famously. She was extremely talented in what she did. However, her talent was diminished by her condescension. Often in meetings, she would laugh at things, even roll her eyes. Although my elder, I often wondered if I had somehow been transported to junior high school. She would often do these things while responding how she knew better. She just didn’t get it. Regardless of how smart you are, things do go wrong, especially when you’re new to a company and haven’t acclimated yourself to that employer’s style of doing things. Yet, she was too good to be bothered with those things.

Now, what really bothered me about this was something that I knew – for all of her professional and personal bravado, she was in the broom closet. She vehemently guarded her witchy inclinations. Being from some more conservative areas of the country, I understand the need to protect your identity from both real and perceived discrimination. However, I live and was working in the Seattle, WA area – one of the most liberal areas of the U.S. where we enjoy both legalized recreational marijuana and marriage equality. Yet, she refused to be open about her witchiness, all while looking down her nose at the people around her.

I struggle with viewing this as a form of hypocrisy. I know that she has her reasons. Maybe it’s my own issue, my warped mind attempting to make me feel like I’m better by being open with my Paganism, as a reaction to her often treating me as professionally inconsequential. It still rubs me the wrong way. I still want to say, “You’re not so much better than everyone else if you feel the need to hide who you are.”

But don’t we all? I’ve posted blogs and v-logs about how I have done the exact same thing for various reasons. I used to be in the broom closet myself. Living in the 21st century, you will still get strange looks from some people in the Appalachian region when they learn that you’re not Christian. We all hide, at some point in our lives, to varying degrees.

I know she has her reasons. I know it shouldn’t bug me. In the end, the lesson is this – don’t be an a$$hole to other people, and maybe there will be a little less confusion in social interactions. Not to mention the fact that when you’re nice, people will be less hesitant to want to punch you in the taint.

So Excited, and I Want to Hide


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Tomorrow Emerald City ComiCon begins. Well, there are activities going on tonight, but the main events at the convention center start tomorrow.

There are many things to see, do, and experience. I’m particularly looking forward to the Women of Buffy panel with Julie Benz, Charisma Carpenter, and Clare Kramer. Well, sort of.

I have been looking forward to this since I purchased the passes during the fall of 2014. I’ve been excitedly talking about the possibilities every time a new guest was announced.

Starting this week, as the first day looms closer, a heavy knot of dread has begun pressing on my stomach. I have felt nauseated. All of the muscles in my body have been tensing, causing some painful spasms. When I casually think about the Con, I feel like throwing up, and my mind wanders to “valid” excuses not to go.

This is the reality of social anxiety.

I don’t necessarily fear being around a large group of people. The best way I can describe it is that when I think about being surrounded by the thousands of people who will attend, I feel a crawling sensation under my skin and going seems like more effort than it’s really worth leaving my home.

But, I do want to go.

The conflict is aggravating. Sometimes the anxiety wins, and I miss out on things that I would actually enjoy…if it weren’t for all of the people. Other times I’m successful at WILLING myself into these situations, and I try my best to focus on what originally drew me while trying to mentally separate myself from those around me. This practice is actually physically and emotionally exhausting – which is why I begin thinking that it’s not really worth the trouble.

I had my first major panic attack at ECCC last year. I didn’t know it was a panic at the time. In the middle of it, I sat down to rest, and came close to losing consciousness. I actually had to call my husband on his cell phone, and all I could say was, “Help me….please help me. I’m going to fall.”

Thankfully I didn’t faint, but the episode made my body feel so terribly weak that we had to leave the Con. When we got home, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and slept for several hours. When I woke up, I felt like I had spent the whole day running a marathon when in reality, we had only spent two hours at the Con.

This is the reality of social anxiety.

I plan on going tomorrow. I’ve caught myself trying to rationalize going tomorrow, but maybe skipping one of the other days, although I have paid for the entire weekend. We’ll see.

I will be posting on my Facebook page throughout the Con – this will help to distract me from any uncomfortable feelings. Wish me luck.

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