I’m Back

I’ve been offline for just under a week now. Painful stuff! The closest I got to the internet was refusing to pay $40 for the privilege of internet access at my hotel for a day. So that explains the silence.
The reason for my absence was a friends wedding. Yes at just under 20 years old (in less than a month) I already have friends getting married. What a strange world we live in.
For all you gen xs around here this might seem somewhat confusing. Aren’t modern sophisticated women supposed to shun early marriage in favor of careers and education? Well here’s the thing. There are a hell of a lot of miserable 40-something women about who decided that they were going to have a career ahead of children and then by the time they got around to the children bit they discovered they’d dried up. So gen y are making the choice. Sure, we can be doctors, engineers, writers, academics, accountants whatever floats your boat, but we can also be mothers and wifes if we want to be.
My friend Anna has chosen to be a housewife. A housewife with a degree in communications (creative writing) but a housewife nonetheless. All Anna has ever wanted to be is a housewife, and maybe a children’s book writer if she ever gets around to it. So good luck to her.

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The rise of the girl crush

The ‘girl crush’ seems to be hot property at the moment. Cosmo declares on the front cover of its January issue that so and so is their ‘Greys Anatomy girl crush’, an American company seems to have cashed in on the craze with a bunch of kids hairstyling items etc, and a couple of months ago I was accused (rather patronizingly I thought) of having a girl crush on Misha Barton.

Officially a girl crush is:

when two women have strong feelings for one another, but not in a sexual way. A Girl Crush is strong infatuation that one woman has for another woman who seems beautiful, sophisticated, charming or accomplished. It usually refers to heterosexual women.

Which is where the problem arises. Having a crush on a girl can be very confusing for someone who thinks she’s straight.

Take my friend for example. In years seven through nine (ages 13 to 15) she had a big crush on me. Only she confused this totally non-sexual ‘girl crush’ for a somewhat more sexual crush. So she spent a good couple of years reacting fairly badly to other friends of mine, being jealous and possessive and occasionally violent (she kicked me across a room once). Then one day when I was staying the night at her place she jumped me, I turned her down and she was fairly hurt.

Turns out a couple of years later she realises that she’s straight after all and was just going through a confused phase and I realise that I’m bi and was just in denial the whole time.

Girls are complicated huh!

Then there are the ‘girl crushes’ that turn out to be something else altogether. See I had a friend at school who was basically a blond Angelina Jolie only taller. Dominant, strong, very charismatic and totally hot. I had a ‘girl crush’ on her for years. Then in year 12 I start to realise that I was actually fairly in love with her and told her as much. Fortunately for me she’s fairly open minded and isn’t even the slightest bit awkward around me.

The point is that in this new era of open mindedness I think terms like ‘girl crush’ are fairly patronizing and unnecessary. I don’t see why we need to attach a label to a girl-girl infatuation to make it socially acceptable.

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Coping with Depression

When it comes to depression I pretty much wrote the book on it. I was first diagnosed with depression when I was five and in that time I’ve gone through a range of flavours from low level unhappiness with the world to full blown suicidal self-destructive mayhem and everything in between.

According to depression.com the first step to dealing with depression is understanding and I would definitely agree with that. It is much easier to cope with when you recognise your symptoms for what they are.

  • constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
  • decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies
  • loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity
  • a change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
  • a change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • restlessness or feeling slowed down
  • decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
  • feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
  • thoughts of suicide or death

(www.depression.com)

If several of these symptoms are experienced over a period of 2 weeks or more then depression is usually diagnosed.

Another related mood disorder is Dysthymia. The primary symptom of dysthymia is a feeling of mild depression over a period of two years or more.

There are many available treatments for depression ranging from various forms of therapy to medication.
From my experience, therapy can work without medication but medication rarely works long term without therapy. Antidepressants are sort of like painkillers. They mask the symptoms but they won’t fix the underlying cause and unfortunately they stop working over time. Your best bet, particularly if you suffer severe depression is therapy.

That said, whilst I have had therapy on and off over my life, it’s not really the answer for me. At a certain stage you come to terms with the fact that you’re going to have down periods and you learn to cope with them.

So here are my solutions.

  • Exercise – the endorphins do wonders and going for a good long cardio session really helps you clear your head.
  • Learn to recognise depressive thought patterns and climb out of the hole before you’re in too deep. If you find yourself being pessimistic about life try to shake it off. Do something you really enjoy and remove yourself from whatever is stressing you out. This is one major skill that therapy can teach you.
  • Keep a journal if you are so inclined. Personally I’m not. I’m just not a fan of journals but if you’re feeling overwhelmed with life then try to express your emotions through creativity. Write poetry, paint, anything. It can really help if you create and see a physical manifestation of your emotions.
  • Play loud music… Well it helps me anyways…
  • Talk to someone you trust about it. Talking about your fears and anxieties helps to put them into perspective. That’s basically what therapy is about and whilst therapists are highly skilled in pointing you in the right direction it doesn’t take a therapist to listen.
  • Indulge yourself in a little escapism. Trashy novels and video games have their place.
  • Do something childish. Even better, if you have young relatives hang out with them. It’s almost impossible to stay miserable when you’re chasing them around with a bucket on your head.

Obviously there are plenty of other things that can help but this is what helps me.

Finally a disclaimer: I’m not a shrink I’m just a garden variety sufferer of depression with some helpful handy hints. If you think you have depression please see your doctor blah blah blah etc etc

Is this ad really racist?

This ad was brought to my attention by an article on boingboing, and it got me thinking.
There is no doubt that some people have been offended by it but I personally don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Now this ad was displayed in Amsterdam but, no surprises here, most of the outcry seems to be coming from America where there is a lot of PC self-consciousness about proving to everyone that you’re not racist and a lot of African-Americans who seem to have a slightly shaky relationship with white Americans.

The major argument by those that think its racist are the following.

  1. It implies the use of ‘black’ and ‘white’ to describe skin colour (dude they’re perfectly viable descriptive terms not racist expressions of hate)
  2. It shows a white person dominating a black person.

Given the history of black slavery in America the second argument is understandable although still a little stupid. The first thing to keep in mind is that to the average European the idea of racism is so far from their mind that the only thought of black and white upon seeing this ad would be “what a visually effective contrast” which is exactly what sony were trying to do.

Now personally I think this visual would have had more impact and I think that there would have been none of the outcry over the image.

And what is the main difference?? The black woman is dominating the white. Which brings up an important point.

Racism is treating a person or making judgements about a person based on race.

So if you were offended by this ad, and would not have been offended by the ad if the two women swapped roles. Then you are racist.