Showing posts with label Costa Rica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Costa Rica. Show all posts

Richie Cox, Rest Easy Now

Any story worth telling is worth improving.

Richie had a fisherman's philosophy when it came to story telling.  He inspired, or provoked, or was co-conspirator in many of the Bar Tales of Costa Rica.  The following excerpt is my tribute to this cowboy/hippie/mystic who will be sorely missed.


There is one particular table at the Pato Loco where deals get made over American breakfast.  Mama, who has overheard a lot of deals being made, said, “It gets so you can tell the real ones from the ones who are all talk.  Paul, he never talks about his deals.  He’s one of the real ones.  But that Jerry who reneged on the house, you could tell he was all blow.”

Andrew Solomon on Depression

I want to be Andrew Solomon when I grow up.  Only briefer.  And funny.

In the absence of blood tests, people with depression have words.  And Solomon has a lot of them.

Solomon's book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression sits by my bedside. I'll get through it someday soon, because I want to tell potential publishers that Prozac Monologues is Noonday Demon, only briefer.  And funny.

Solomon went around the world to report how the world experiences depression.  Yes, he found it everywhere.

Last week when I told my doctor I was going to Costa Rica, he asked if I would feel better there.  You know what? People in Costa Rica get depression, too.  Hard to imagine, I know.  But it's true. They have psych wards and therapists and ECT and everything in Costa Rica.  I have a card for a psychiatrist in San Jose, just in case.

NAMI Camino - BDNF Meets 5K

Exercise and learning new things -- two of the most powerful tools in the Recovery Toolbox.  They came together in my NAMI Camino, April 28, 2012.

NAMI Walk/NAMI Camino gave you the set up.  NAMI Johnson County held its annual walk/fund-raiser last week, when I was in Costa Rica.  It would be my fourth and last time participating.  But I would be in Costa Rica!  Inspired by the San Diego Walk in 2010, when a battalion in Iraq ran while San Diego walked, I decided to do Johnson County's Walk long distance -- though I would not be running in full battle armor and in the heat of the day.  My extra effort was confined to carrying a laptop to record the event.

With the following results:

So what follows is a series of installments, stopping at each kilometer marker.  This series shows you what you can do with Photo Booth, Youtube, not much skill, and a willingness to experiment.  Everything is reversed, left and right, which won't confuse you unless you are trying to read t-shirts or street signs.

NAMI Walk/NAMI Camino

I started a new project today, researching the route for my NAMI Camino.

I Walk For The Mind Of America

April 28 will be my fourth Walk to raise funds for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).  I have been most gratified by the support from friends who help me give back to this organization that has made such a difference in my life, and hundreds of thousands of others.

History Of NAMI

Since its founding in 1979, by a bunch of uppity Wisconsin women who said There is no such thing as a schizophrenic family; we did NOT cause our children to have this devastating BIOLOGICAL disease, NAMI has been a beacon of light, education, advocacy, and support first to families and then to persons living with mental illness.

My History With NAMI

In my case, Peer to Peer, a 10 week class helped me to understand, come to accept, and learn skills to live with my illness, whatever they think it is this week.

Grief/Depression III - Telling the Difference

Once, when I was seriously under and still headed down, a friend said to me, There have been times in my life when I was sad, so sad I couldn't imagine being any sadder. But it seems that what you and others with depression are describing is a whole different level that I know nothing about.

See, that's what would be helpful, instead of, I know just how you feel. I remember when [fill in the significant loss]... I knew that he knew times of deep sadness, because I knew some of those times, and because he is a person is thinks and feels deeply. And listens deeply. Everyone should have such a friend.

It was Social Hour. We were in a corner to protect me from all those people being social. I leaned against a wall, because I was very tired. I guess the wall gave me the idea. I said, Yes, there are times I have been so sad I couldn't imagine being sadder. It's like the sadness became a wall I could lean against, because I was so tired. But Depression IS different. Imagine if the wall gives way. Imagine there isn't a limit. You lean and the wall gives way.

In Memoriam - Mary Kirigin

This is one of my favorite photos of my mother, standing next to my sister Mary.  That smiling mouth agape, as if to say, Can you believe what I get to do now!

I am writing on Monday, in the few minutes before I head over to the Pato Loco for the memorial service, to be followed later by a funeral in Utah.  Not sure about my publication schedule for the next few weeks, and taking personal privilege with the topic.  It's your blog, my doc once said.  So it is.

Mama was a survivor, in the real world, not reality TV world sense of the word.  She was also a public person, and I learned from her how to set a public face, mostly a competent face.  Privately it was more often harried, the face I see in the mirror, more every day.

The thing therapists think you are supposed to say to survivors is Wow!  You are so strong!  Me, I don't care for that line.

Prozac Monologues - How It Began

First conceived as a stand up comedy routine, birthed as a book, morphed into a blog, on August 29, 2011 Prozac Monologues came full circle at Happy Hour at the Pato Loco, Playas del Coco, Costa Rica.  This was the very spot where in January 2005, the book was originally written over the course of eight heavenly (my wife wouldn't use that word), hypomanic days.  Micah pulled out his laptop.  Patricia set it up on top of a bar stool.  And I held forth.

You can hear a bit of our little beach town's rush hour in the background.  So here is the text:

Prozac Monologues - How It Began

2004 was not a good year for me.  My doctor tried to make it better by prescribing Prozac for major depression.  Only Prozac didn't make it better.  So she prescribed more Prozac.  And that made it so much more not better that I concluded the only way I could describe how much more not better would be a stand-up comedy routine.  And thus was planted the seed for what has become Prozac Monologues.

So I went off Prozac, and on January 25, 2005, I boarded an airplane for Costa Rica, armed with a yellow legal pad and a ball point pen. 

Hypomania In Action

For eight days in beautiful, tropical Costa Rica, my wife went to the beach, explored neighborhoods, visited with family, tried new foods, while I wrote.  And wrote.  And wrote.  When I filled up one side of the yellow legal pad, I wrote on the back.  When I filled up the back, I wrote in the margins.  When I filled up the margins, I wrote between the lines.

I came home with seven chapters.  Two weeks later, the book was done.

I told my doctor about my book and maniacally writing it.  That word maniacally raised a red flag.  So she screened for bipolar.  She said, Are you manic?

I said what anybody who thought she was Jesus Christ come back as Jessica Christ might have said, I'm not manic.  I'm excited!

Oh.  Okay.  So she prescribed the second antidepressant, and began what will have to become a new book, but I haven't recovered enough to write it yet.

Was I manic?  No, I was hypomanic.  But I didn't know that word.  And maybe you don't know it either.  So I submit for definition and for evidence the first four pages of

Prozac Monologues

Willa Goodfellow

Chapter One
Bizarre: In which I decide to write a book

Okay, let's start with the basic Prozac dilemma.  Just who is the crazy one around here?  If, after you read the morning paper, you are happy, content, secure, at peace, able to get up, go out and carry on your activities of daily living, full of confidence and a sense of purpose, then tell me -- are you pathologically delusional?

Or are you on Prozac?

Citizens of the United States of America (called Americans and thereby hijacking the identities of thirty-eight other nations in the Western Hemisphere -- Remember Canada?  Every heard of Paraguay?) make up 5% of the population of the planet and consume 24% of its energy resources.  We spend more on trash bags than the gross national product of 90 of the world's 130 nations.

What was that?

We spend more on trash bags than the whole gross national product of 90 nations.

So who is the crazy one around here? 

The Crazy Delusion 

We get such a sliver of time to enjoy this wildly extravagant planet, and we spend precious moments of it, watching couples on TV compete for cash prizes on the basis of how many maggots they can eat. 

Until the maggot-eating is interrupted by somebody who wants to sell you an air freshener that uses an electronically operated fan to circulate chemical compounds around your living room to make you think you are out of doors. 

The fan is the latest advance in civilization which will enable you to stop feeding your Shiatsu little treats, which you previously had to do to get it to wag its tail to disperse the chemical compounds around your living room. 

So now you have to take Prozac, so you can get yourself up off the sofa where you have been sitting in a semi-catatonic state, watching the maggot-eating and dog-treating, out of your pajamas and into your four-wheel drive SUV, which you were compelled to purchase after viewing those commercials of SUV’s climbing over mountainous terrain beside raging rivers,

But which you happen to use to commute an hour and forty-five minutes on some freeway to work in a cubicle with a picture of mountainous terrain and raging rivers and some motivational caption underneath, so you can buy the air freshener with its self-contained and electrically-operated fan that disperses the chemicals that make you think you are out of doors, because you wouldn’t want actually to go out of doors – the air is so nasty from the fumes of your SUV.  Who is the crazy one around here? 

And don’t even get me started on the taxes you will pay from your job in your cubicle to fund somebody’s research into that missile that can shoot another missile out of the sky, to protect us from the bad guys who can bring down two 100-story buildings armed with the equivalent of a Swiss Army knife.  If it’s your job to figure out how to shoot that missile out of the sky, stop taking Prozac and go do something else to do with your life.  Or just go back to your sofa.  Please. 

Okay, now I sound like Michael Moore.  Let’s just call this the Crazy Delusion, a concept not original to me, and of which you can think of your own examples, so I don’t need to continue this rant which is not really the point of this book, but only the context of our consideration of the title of its first chapter.

In short –

It’s hard to know whether depression is a problem of distorted thinking or the result of clarity. 

In either case, sitting on the sofa in your pajamas does not turn the economic engine of this great nation, no matter what you’re watching.

Except for the pharmaceutical industry’s economic engine.  They keep making money, as long as they are able to sell you images of people who are happy and confident, popping their Prozac, (nowadays it’s Abilify), which you really start to believe when you’re still sitting on that sofa, watching those images over and over and over again. 

Ads For Antidepressants

Have you noticed how all the ads for antidepressants run during the afternoon soaps?  (If you are not depressed, you haven’t noticed, because you’re off at work, turning that economic engine.)  No, those pharmaceutical guys know where to find their audience, and when, on the sofa, in our pajamas, in the middle of the afternoon. 

Now I’m talking to you, the one in the pajamas.  You thought you might get up and go for a walk, like you promised your sweetie (who has gone to work) that you would.  But here it is, two o’clock in the afternoon.  The recap of yesterday’s episode comes on, and before you can find the remote to turn it off after the last soap, that theme song begins.  It sounds inspirational, but for some reason, you start to cry. 

After the theme song, and before the start of today’s episode, it’s time for that gentle, compassionate voice, who lists all your symptoms, including another one you have, now that the voice mentions it, but up until now you didn’t realize that it also is on the list, so you must be even sicker than you thought.  Who is that voice that understands you so well, better than your doctor, it seems, and so must know exactly what you need to ask your doctor to prescribe.

Symptoms Of Depression

Here is that list, by the way: sadness (no duh!), sleep disturbance (too much, too little ) weight gain (or loss), lack of energy, loss of interest in the things you used to like to do, loss of motivation (hence, all that time on the sofa), slowed pace, poor memory, poor concentration (they don’t want you at work anyway – you might break something), loss of self-confidence (like, they really don’t want you at work – you might break something), guilt, feelings of worthlessness, suicidal thoughts or attempts.

If you have been sad or lost interest in things for at least two weeks, plus four of the others, I’m talking about you.  You and 12% of the population who will experience an episode of depression sometime in their life (that’s major depression), plus another 6% who just feel lousy all the time (that’s dysthemia), and another 6.4 who sometimes are way up and sometimes way down (that’s bipolar), or …

One in twenty people in any given month.

When you have so much company, how is it you feel so alone?

You are not alone. 

Prozac Monologues 

photo of Playas del Coco by Helen Keefe, used by permission
photo of trash bags by Yuyudevil, in public domain
photo of Cubicle Land by Larsinio, in public domain
photo of prozac by Tom Varco, used by permission
photo "Loneliness" by graur razvan ionut

Bar Tales of Costa Rica

I need a break from upset.  Maybe my readers do, too.

Once when I was in Costa Rica, working on another unpublished book, Deep Calling -- that's my depressing book about being depressed, as opposed to Prozac Monologues, my funny book about depressed -- I needed a break from being depressed.  I took my breaks at the bar at the Pato Loco in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica.

My sister, the Voodoo Princess and proprietor of the Pato Loco also needed a break from my being depressed.  So she was delighted to learn that the Pato Loco inspired and regularly supplied material for my third book that is not published, Bar Tales of Costa RicaBar Tales is not about depression.

This week we all take a break together, with the first of the Bar Tales of Costa Rica.

Shut Up, Lenny!

How are you today, Rosie?

Oh, I could use some de-stressing.  You can’t tell by looking at this big black beautiful woman in shorts, sleeveless and flip flops, but she’s running a several employee travel agency back in the States while she sits in front of her laptop in the dining room of the Pato Loco.

Rosie set up the wireless for the hotel, when she was living here while her condo in Hermosa was under construction.  That took so long, she became a member of the family, another sister.  Mama had a colorful past, we say when somebody raises an eyebrow at the introduction.  As a matter of fact, she did. 

De-stressing you need?  Let me see what I can do.  Here’s a story for you.  You know our neighbor, Lenny, the Hot Dog man?”

Yeah, I’ve been trying to buy one of those hot dogs.  Every time I go downtown, he’s never open.

No, he‘s out of business for the time being.  I guess the Pizza Hut truck had a prior lease on that lot where he had his hot dog stand.  They moved back in, what with high season coming.  So he doesn’t have a place to put his cart. 

It was a great spot, right there across from Zouk Santana and the Lizard Lounge.  Lenny said he was selling 70 hot dogs an hour between 2 and 3 AM, when the bars closed.  He said one night, he ran out of chili.  They kept buying the dogs.  He was selling them faster than he could cook them.  They bought them raw.  Four bucks a pop, chili or no, 300% profit. 

It is a triumph, that hot dog stand.

Costa Rican Developers

I don’t really care about Lenny’s success.  He’s a newbie from Texas.  And he isn’t a hot dog salesman anyway, at least, not in his head.  He says he’s a developer.  Everybody claims to be a developer.  Except me.  I claim to be a writer.  I guess it comes down to the same thing, a lot of dreams, not so much cash.  Except I really do write.  I don’t publish, but I write.  Developers seem to talk mostly, over beers at the Pato Loco, since the Bohio has been torn down for being too close to the beach, now that the tides have shifted.

The tide comes in, the tide goes out.  The beach is never the same.  They’re putting in a marina where the Bohio and a lot of other nicer bars and restaurants used to be.  I don’t cheer for developers.

What Lenny really does, or talks about doing, while the luxury condo deal is still in development, is sell vacation packages.  Ninety-five bucks buys you four vacation packages in Maui, Orlando, Las Vegas or Puerto Something.  Ninety-five bucks and a couple hours of your time while people try to sell you a time-share in Maui, Orlando, Las Vegas or Puerto Something.

The hot dog stand is the hook.  You’re cooking the dog to order, piling on the chili, the onions, peppers, cheese, and all the time talking about vacation packages, four per year, ninety-five bucks.  Except when the bars let out and you’re selling the dogs seventy per hour at 2 AM.  Not so much time to talk then.  Just, You want ketchup?  Mustard?  Mayo?

We didn’t meet over hot dogs, but on my front porch, Lenny and me, when I returned to Costa Rica this winter and said hello to my new neighbor.  He was telling me about the hot dogs when, out of the blue, You want to make a couple thousand a week?

Couple thousand what, colones?  (That’s four bucks.)

I’ll pay you twenty bucks for every vacation package you sell.

No, thank you, Lenny.  I do not want to sell vacation packages.  I do not want to make a couple thousand dollars a week.  I don’t make that much money in the States, and I didn’t move to Costa Rica to make that much money here.  I moved so I could live on what I make in the States, so I could write.  I am not a salesman.  I am a writer.

As far as I can tell, it’s a pyramid scheme.  Lenny sells this job to apparently (and in this case mistakenly so) aimless people who want to stay in Costa Rica on dreams of a couple thousand a week.  The job is to sell brochures that will lure drunks, who actually intended to buy a hot dog after they were evicted from the bars, to go to some other vacation spot, where somebody else will try to sell them time-shares, so they can come back to where some other hot dog vender, or maybe Lenny himself next year in a different location, will try to sell them some condo that he has developed, thereby justifying his self-identity as a developer.

But to pull this off, he needs the person willing to serve the hot dogs in the hopes of selling the brochures.  Since I do not want to make a couple thousand dollars a week, I do not qualify for this job.  Ironically, with a different pitch, I might be willing to help him out with his dogs.

That’s what I think Lenny really does, sell hot dogs.

Costa Rican Hot Dog Stand

And it is a triumph, not for Lenny the developer, but for our other next door neighbor, David, who bought the hot dog stand online from Canada, had it delivered to his home in Atlanta, and then shipped it through Miami to Costa Rica.

David isn’t a hot dog salesman.  He’s a pool man.  He’s also a very nice guy who made some sudden and poor financial decisions last fall.  It was a bad time in his life.  He decided that Dennis, the maintenance man at our condo, could use some extra bucks.  So David decided to set Dennis up in business as a hot dog salesman.

Except Dennis isn’t a hot dog salesman, either.  He’s a construction guy, who can do a million different things with his hands, all of them very well, but is not into handling hot dogs.  Dennis is Costa Rican and proud, and Costa Ricans are not into hot dogs, neither buying nor selling, which is why it’s hard to find a good hot dog in this country.

But both of them, David and Dennis are very nice guys, and their friendship survived this awkward spell, when the hot dog stand was taking up space outside the bodega (storage shed) next to the pool for several months, until Lenny moved to town and discovered it there while he wasn’t developing anything but his story.

I will say this for Lenny, he makes a very good chili.  And he did manage to find a vender, a German who lives in San Jose, who sells him a decent quality dog.  Not Chicago quality.  There’s no snap, none at all.  But it’s got a bit of smoke, and for Costa Rica, it’s pretty darn good.  And lots of the ex-pats (the North American ex-pats) get frustrated, looking for the hot dog stand, which often is not in operation for one reason or another.

I will also say this for Lenny – he operates on Costa Rican time.  Which is to say, he gets it open when he gets it open.  If he says 5 o’clock, don’t bother showing up until 7.  The frustrated ex-pats don’t get his business plan.  He is not into food service.  He is into money.  And he can make a whole lot of it, more than enough to live in Playas del Coco, between 2 and 3 in the morning, seventy dogs an hour, $3 profit on each one, even when he is selling them so fast he doesn’t have time to cook them.  He does not have to open when he promises or sell hot dogs during the lunch hour.

But right now he’s not selling hot dogs at all, since the Pizza Hut truck came back to town with the same business plan as far as volume and drunks go and, more importantly, the lease on his location.

We think maybe he went on a bender.  We didn’t see him for three days, but his car’s been there.  And with his muffler, we know when he moves it.  He starts it up, backs the car the hundred feet to the gate, turns off the engine, gets out and opens the gate.  I guess he only has one key chain.  Then he starts the car, pulls through the gate, turns the car off again, gets out, closes the gate, gets back into the car, starts it the third time, and leaves.  Our house is right by the gate.  So we know when he goes anywhere, since he doesn’t even walk the hundred feet to the gate.  Lenny doesn’t walk.

The Voodoo Princess, owner of the Pato Loco, interrupted, You could buy him another key chain.  She likes Lenny, and he eats at the Pato Loco a lot, since you can eat only so many hot dogs, if you want to keep selling them.

I’m telling a story here, little sister.  Work with me.  The Voodoo Princess is my little sister.  We have a diverse family.  Mama had a colorful past.

Costa Rican Neighbors

Anyway, this morning we heard from him again.  It was about 9 o’clock when he shouted, Shut up!  A couple minutes later, we heard it again, Shut up!  It took about three or four times, Shut up! before I figured this out.  Luis, the neighbor on the other side of the wall, has a mynah bird that says, “Buenas!”  The bird says it all day long, “Buenas.”

It used to bother me, David interjects from the bar where he is nursing a club soda, But I have become one with the mynah.

Yeah, now it’s just part of the sound track of Costa Rica.  But this morning it was:

Buenas – Shut up!

Buenas – Shut up!

Rosie is laughing now.  It’s good to hear Rosie laugh.  He knew he was talking to a bird?

Well, I don’t know.  Because then it became – 

Buenas – Shut the f*** up!

Buenas – Shut the f*** up!

Rosie is doubling over, He said, f***?

No, actually, he filled in the vowel and the final consonants.  Things were definitely escalating.  I wondered if he was going to go next door and throttle a mynah bird.  And then I hear it.  Our whole condo association hears it –

David knew what was coming.  He verified it, Yes, we did.

Buenas Shut the f*** up!  Comprende?  Shut up!

She’s screaming now.  Comprende?

Comprende.  One more time, I was just about to go over there, if he said it one more time.  – Lenny, it’s a bird!  I know it’s irritating, ‘Buenas.’  [I flattened those vowels as flat as a tortilla.]  But me, I’m listening to ‘Buenas’ – ‘Shut the f*** up!’  I don’t think I’ll have much success with the bird.  So I’m going to try with the drunk.  Lenny, shut the f*** up!

So, how did that work out?

Well, I never got the chance.  Maybe the bird did comprende.  Because they both got quiet.  So, how are you feeling now, Rosie?

Thanks, I needed that.  I’m feeling a lot better.

Pato Loco logo used by permission
photo of family table at Pato Loco by Mary Cox and used by permission
photo of chili dog by LG2, in public domain
drawing of condo by tomwild, in public domain
photo of bird of paradise and front porch by author
photo of mynah bird by Dhabyany, used under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Costa Rica and Depression

This is my breakfast view on the left.  It is called patita, a vine on the edge of my porch.  I planted the seeds myself.  A stranger gave them to me when I admired it in his yard.

If I look to the right, I see "bird of paradise," outside my neighbor's door.
Some friends invited us for drinks and this view at sunset. 
Why the hell would anybody be depressed in Costa Rica?

I prepare my answer for friends back in Iowa.  Most of my friends already know the answer, or else are too discrete to ask.  I really just ask myself.  Why the hell am I depressed in Costa Rica.

Five years into studying this disease, it still baffles me.  I know the answer, too, and yet it baffles me.  There are psychiatrists in Costa Rica.  There are psych wards in Costa Rica.  I have seen the boxes of Effexor on the shelf of the pharmacy where I go to buy contact lens solution.  There is even Electro-Convulsive Therapy in Costa Rica.  I have read the brochure.

So there must be depression in Costa Rica.  I am simply one of the people who have it.  There is something about the way that my brain works, as there is something about the way that other people's brains work, that give us this condition that is found across the planet, in every culture, even in a place where plants grow that are called "bird of paradise."

If other people have trouble believing that it is real, why should I be surprised?  I still wake up mornings and think, "This is crazy!  Snap out of it!"

When I packed for my latest trip, I didn't pack enough medication.  Oh, I knew I couldn't get nortriptyline here in the formulation and dosage that I take -- a question I had asked in a previous trip.  So even though they aren't as effective as they used to be, I counted those particular pills carefully.  But the Valium that takes the edge off until my psychiatrist and I can find the next solution, or at least decide on the next chemistry experiment -- well, who would need Valium in Costa Rica?

So last week I found myself in the pharmacy again, asking about Valium.  It is one of the drugs for which you have to have a prescription.  (You don't for Prozac, nor for Viagra, if that might influence your travel plans.)  It turns out that the eighteen year old with the ponytail who was talking with the staff is the doctor.  No, he must be older than eighteen, not a blemish on that beautiful skin.  I went to his office yesterday, where he had his prescription pad, and he was very understanding.  Still not wanting to believe that I take Valium, I kept underestimating how many I would need before I got back to Iowa.  But he convinced me that if I truly had enough, then I wouldn't worry about it.  I had  said that at the pharmacy, that I was worried about it.  He heard me, and he remembered.  For an eighteen year old, he is really good at paying attention.

Then I asked about Lunesta.  I don't take it very often.  Insomnia is not a side effect of my current med.  I just need it when I get caught at night reliving a living nightmare.  I wondered if I could find a cheaper source.  No, they don't have that one in Costa Rica.  But that started a conversation about side effects, insomnia, SSRI's and all those things I think about.  He said they have a different attitude in Costa Rica.  These side effects are terrible, he said.  So they don't use these heavy duty meds like Zoloft, except as a last resort.  First they try psychotherapy, then very small doses of tricyclics.

I know that Prozac became so popular because it was supposed to work better and have less side effects than the older meds that they prefer in Costa Rica.  And I realize a lot of people swear by it.  But I don't get it.  Over time, SSRI's and SNRI's have turned out to be no more effective than the TCA's.  As far as side effects go, maybe fewer people have them with the newer meds -- I don't know.  That's what the drug reps say.  But if you have to choose between hard core insomnia (Prozac/SSRI) and dry mouth (Elavil/TCA), between suicidal impulses (Cymbalta/SNRI) and constipation (Pamelor/TCA), I have experienced them all, and I'm going for the Costa Rican approach.

Meanwhile, back in the world of publishing papers, there is a current buzz about an old idea, that depression serves a purpose for the species.  It may surprise you to know, but not every culture and every time has tried to extinguish the Grim when it rears its head.  The approach of the European Middle Ages was to classify it as one of the four humours, melancholia.  It may cause difficulties when the humours are out of balance.  But there is a place in this world for the melancholic.  We are good gardeners, night watchmen, writers.  Paul Andrews and J. Anderson Thompson argue for Depression's Evolutionary Roots, that it exists because it "is not a malfunction, but a mental adaptation that brings certain cognitive advantages," among them the ability to ruminate, to think carefully about complex issues and solve problems.  That is not the way my therapist talked about rumination.

I will keep reading and thinking about these ideas, because that is one of the things I do.  I ruminate.  So you will find out more about rumination in the coming months.  Meanwhile, I have a new determination to treat my depression, my body, my mind gently, to discover what I can do with what I have been given.  I am not quite ready to call it a gift.  But I am disinclined to poison myself in order to get rid of it.

Costa Rica is a gentle place.  
photos by Helen Keefe

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