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Showing posts with the label Mental Health

219. Side Defects

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This is one of the greatest ironies in the pharmacological world. Through sheer happenstance they found a medication that actually helps with depression symptoms. However, one of the most common side effects is the inability to achieve a literal orgasm, or to want to participate in sex. So you finally get the energy to say yes to that orgy e-vite, but you can't actually enjoy it as much. To this day it's not like I advertise that I'm on medication. Nobody does, even though as much as 13% of ALL adults in the US take them. And it's more staggering the older you get.  What is that shame that comes along with needing something external to stifle the darkness?  I know part of the answer. The moment you mention you're taking medication, there's 100 voices telling you that you wouldn't be depressed if you just exercised more, ate better, meditated, joined a club, found jesus, wrote, cooked, lifted, art-ed, cut social media, hire a life coach, went to a specific th

211. Projectionist

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Psychological projection, in its most basic sense is putting out in others what is deep inside you. So in a way, it's like flinging poop. You are flinging poop on other people all the time.  They don't want you to fling poop on them. You may not know you're flinging poop on them, but you sure are. We all are. We all do it, but it's not all bad. Projecting can be seen as being in the same spectrum as commiserating or empathizing. But then, you meet conservatives. The people being the most adamant against homosexuality, nudity and non-missionary sex have shown very often to be closeted themselves. They rage against their own machine.  All these super religious people who don't believe people can be good without religion? They're saying a whole lot more about themselves than about people in general.  What about abortion, why are so many white old men so verbally against terminating pregnancies? What are they hiding with this ridiculous resolve? Do they have an inna

209. Master Level

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Smartphones and social media are a double edged sword for me. Without them I'd be a lot more disconnected from the world at large but with them I am more connected with the world at large. Would I be more sociable without them? If we somehow un-invented them, like in Neil Gaiman's short story "And Weep, Like Alexander'", would I be a more sociable guy or not? I lost my phone to the waters of a foreign country recently and I experienced first hand what the world is like without one, and it's not pretty. How did we know which restaurant had better ratings? How were we able to know who that guy was in that episode of Seinfeld? What the nearest fuel source is? I lived through those dark times and I can't even remember! As a bonus for being patient, here's another take on my miserable experience.  

200. Foreign Affairs

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Dear readers, this is not a joke. For at least a decade, I enjoyed the fruits of my immigration status. Every awkward, weird, strange, outlandish and cringeworthy thing I did was blamed by yours truly on the fact that I was from another country.  'In my home country we used salt instead of sugar,' I'd say after messing up a recipe. 'In my home country it's normal to be barefoot outside.' 'In my home country, it's customary to get blackout drunk on Mondays.' ' In my country we say grace AFTER eating the turkey. ' Do I feel bad about it? In my home country we don't feel bad about things. But, honestly, it was great. After a lifetime of being weird and an outcast in my own country, I got to flip the script a bit and make it exotic in a new one. It didn't last long. People caught on at around year 3. And then, in year 7 I became a citizen of the United States of America. I entered a period of diminishing results. And now, I'm back to

197. Faux Therapy

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I’ve written and talked about impostor syndrome at length. Here is one early sample , and another . I’m still plagued by these feelings every once in a while, that I’m just acting like I know things instead of actually knowing things. I’ve heard a few of my coworkers express that feeling as well. I think in part it is because I work in healthcare, but I’m not in the front lines. The front line is where the magic happens (you can’t fake setting up an IV), we are all there just for support, and it is often hard to find the value we provide from the sidelines. All I can do some days is cheer like a paraplegic behind the marathon finish line. And then, there are those that should be feeling a bit like impostors but have no sign of self awareness. Do they wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night and wonder… perhaps I should come clean to my West Virginia constituents and tell them that I’m actually a Republican in disguise? But seriously, the syndrome is real and it is very common

195. Complimental

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One time, after a long presentation I gave at work, a coworker took me aside and told me that she loved how simple my mind was. One ex-girlfriend once told me that I was a great boyfriend because finally she wasn't punching up in the looks department. Last weekend someone congratulated me for wearing a mask at a concert, even though they were "useless". Keeping in mind the infrequent compliments I get, it is quite striking the high proportion of them that are poorly disguised insults.  How about you, dear reader, do you have any notable examples of this? Sound off in the comments, lest I am left with the feeling that I'm the only human subjected to this tribute torture.

188. Long Con

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When I lived in Venezuela, we used to say that United States citizens “Lived to Work instead of Working to Live.” After almost 20 years here in the USA, that stereotype rings true; specially for boomers. Labor is Jesus for so many of the people in this country. It seems that no matter if your job is actually saving people in the emergency room  or selling subscriptions for the National Enquirer, people in the United States give their all to their job. They spend their earnings on pools they don’t have time to swim in and call it good with a one week curated vacation a year. It’s always resorts and cruises with these folks, a formulaic approach to life. Hard work plus cruise = live, laugh, love. For the last few months I’ve been running a COVID vaccine clinic. 11 hours a day 5 days a week, with the occasional weekend. This is the main reason why I haven’t been able to draw and write. It’s the most I’ve ever worked in my life for such as sustained time. It’s easy, though, when you believ

186. Urine Trouble

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Bathrooms are the Water Temple of social anxiety. That’s a Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (1998) reference and trust me it’s very, very funny. On point though, public bathrooms, locker rooms, and other  loci of excreta have always been challenging locations when my social anxiety is at its highest. I don’t want to learn about others in these quarters, I feel no need to reach out to anything but my self. One time, as a new employee, I went to the bathroom adjacent to where I was being onboarded. The CEO came bounding in, loudly announcing himself and patting other urinators on the back. He then proceeded to let go of his liquid waste hands-free while holding a power pose and whistling. It dawned on me that that’s probably why he was the CEO. He had conquered the bathroom. Surely the people who hired him could tell this is a person who can pee while loudly talking about the weather! “He’s going places”, they must've said to themselves!  Extra panel:  Listen, I know it’s a shitt

169. Jackpot

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I'm not spiking my morning coffee if that's what you're wondering. I am, however, definitely drinking more now than the before times. We used to go out a lot, and I got most of my drink-on out there. It has not been the same without a place to gargle my griefs with grog. My fridge and bar are stocked with a lot more happy juice these days.  I've been asking around. I'm not alone. This is what we originally called the second wave, a stealthy mental health undertow that could suck us up. If you are reading this, you are likely shook up. And this time you can't blame it on the mediocrity of my comics.  The good thing is this: People ARE sharing their levels of anxiety. We are all there. Do we vary in our response? Yes. I make bad drawings of bad situations mocking my own issues. Some people crochet and stuff. Everyone, including your Facebook perfect friends seem to be experiencing a connected restlessness. Yes, them. That family that is always together, smiling, p

167. Free Ennui

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    I remember standing in line for album releases. The anticipation was part of the thrill! I could maybe afford one cd a month, a few video games a year. However, I remember them all very fondly and it may have been from the unique value and space they possessed in my life.  Now, I can go from being all "Who is Sufjan Stevens?" to listening to his whole library in seconds. This is an objective improvement in people’s lives, and yet... Each individual piece of media I consume seems a bit less valuable. I’m never going to extensively complain, though. I am a technophile and have a short attention span, so this is my world; but if I’m ludicrously honest with myself, I miss wanting sometimes.  Writing this makes me realize I've just won the first-world-contest that I host in my head every day. Also, not enjoying things you used to is a very common symptom of depression which would come off as no surprise to my readers or to many of the melancholic people I know. Extra pane

165. Giving Him the Bird

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I embraced Social media when it hit the world. For an introvert like me, it felt like a good way to be connected with the world. But then something terrible happened: it got populated.  Facebook is riddled by ignorance and silliness, but at least I can ignore or block most of it relatively easily. Twitter, on the other hand, just has everybody's opinion with no consequence. I applaud their recent efforts at curtailing fake news, but I don't think it will ever be enough. If you've seen a city hall open mic , you can see why it may be problematic to give everyone a voice.  Young-me would be appalled that I do not consider every voice equally important. I don't really give AF what you think, young-me! Why should anybody care that the limo driver next door is dubious of the world's roundness? He should meet like-minded people in mysterious subgroups. Why is his voice equal to that of a geologist or an astronomer in a conversation? I'd love to hear his thoughts on th

164. Flame Buoyant

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I remember the ‘92 LA riots. If you don’t, there’s a brilliant documentary in Netflix about it (LA 92). At the time, the loss of property and all the literal flames made me question if the response was balanced to the cause (Rodney King’s beating.)  Now, I don't even pose the question. I can never know what it is like to be culled and focused on so adamantly. Sure, other minorities get some crap. But there’s something about the image of a black individual in society at large that scares white people. An angry white man doesn’t generate the same fear and reprisal that an angry black man does. An armed white man? Well that’s just Walmart on a Friday night! An armed black man is a death sentence.  I’ve only experienced racism a few times, and it only happens when they hear my accent. Instead of cops, the institution that treated me like dirt was Homeland Security in airports. They mocked my accent, they questioned my motives, and they generally made me feel powerless. However, I never

160. Covicious Cycle

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157. Gag Reel

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Obama was a bit drone happy. Hillary was a bit hard to relate to. And I voted for both of them. The thing that surprises me the most about the Trump presidency is how his supporters don’t even acknowledge his faults. This week the president suggested that we look into putting disinfectant inside our bodies. Fact. Even the dumbest among us know how dangerous that would be. And the Trump defense force has been strong this week. Their defense is the most hilarious thing I’ve seen, and I consume a lot of comedy. Their argument is that Trump isn’t actually doing it, he just wants us to consider it. The highlight of my week was a Trumpian saying it was fake news and providing text that would exonerate the President, but the idiot forgot to change the words and provided the actual words: “And I then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute, and is there a way you can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in th

155. Time Off

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This week, I am not anxious. I find that extremely surprising, given the weird apocalypse-adjacent adventure we are experiencing. It really is about knowing that we are all going through the same thing that gives me strength. By this point, we all know people who have been affected physically by the COVID, or someone who has been left behind in the economy. We are all helping each other as much as we can in the most uncertain times many of us have experienced. I am not known for my optimism, but I truly feel we will come back stronger. We will appreciate communication more, we will be more informed about infection control and we will focus on the important things. This is one of my series of comics that have homunculi ,  personified abstractions of my issues or my mental processes. I am often drawn to that style as I work through my demons. I hope you enjoyed the comic! Extra Panel: This harkens back to Awkwardo , my personified social awkwardness. He’s in heaven right no

150. Waiting for you

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Isn’t it weird how there’s always someone waiting at the bottom of the pit?  I know this is a snarky, cynical look at recovery but... I  don’t actually have a but, I’m just an a-hole sometimes. I don’t really care that people need culty things to help them get out of rock bottom, it’s that they become super annoying about it. Every person’s path is so completely different, what one person is lacking is not comparable to what most other fellow humans are lacking. And yet, you always get that guy that “Bro, do you even lift”’s you. Or that person that assures you, their church is different, their church is the true path. Or that guy with the five o’clock shadow that swears that focusing solely on work took him out of his despair. No Chad, I don’t think going to the gym 6 times a week is going to solve this ennui that I feel right now. This transitory feeling that life is just an experiment conducted by an AI simulation and I am in the control group, yeah I don’t think I can jus

147. Signs

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My job is hard to explain. Some days I am a leadership coach. Some days I am a project manager. Some days I am a business analyst. And all of those things require additional explanation and modulation. I often cherish the simplicity of people who can say they are dentists, janitors, or cops. A few syllables is all it takes for them! Additionally, I don’t like talking about work when I am not at work.  What’s the point of my meticulously separated buckets if I allow people to pierce through them with the World’s most popular small talk question? We are what we do, but sometimes our work isn’t even a third of what we do, contrary to what the clock may say. So I am particularly dodgy about that question. I like to think it adds a sense of mystery, but it also gives me space. Extra Panel: Another point of view Also, I’ve made some magnets so you can make your own crazy scene in the fridge! Get them here! 

137. Double Date

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Nobody tells you about the skeletons. In a first date, how often did you divulge your deepest secrets? Not often, I’m going to wager. You didn’t tell them about your childhood crush on Gadget from Chip And Dale Rescue Rangers;  and you definitely didn’t mention your psychological issues in crushing detail. Those come later. Finding someone who you can eventually open up to is great. Having someone who can dance with your defects is divine. I’m a lucky bastard, as I’ve mentioned before. More and more, the weirdos are those who never fall down. The ones who make a career or get their jollies by showing you a constant image of perfection. Those are the ones that I don’t get. They’d be more believable and more approachable if they’d at the very least tell you their fart story. We have all let a fart go in the most awkward moment. It’s just that some of us are broken enough to write a blog post about it. My runaway gas was in my office just before a performance review in m

135. Anxiety All The Way Down

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Anxiety comes at me in waves. Sometimes I am perfectly satisfied with this hard wrought life I’ve made for myself, complete with a wife, home and community. The next second I am obsessing about having to meet people and how am I going to find and wear the proper pants for said meeting (and I only have like two pairs of pants).  One time, I had so much anxiety about my choices in the board game Pandemic Legacy that I ruined that game forever. I still think about all those diseased millions we left uncured in Shanghai. There’s objective reasons for my current bout with anxiety. I have a new job, a new commute, a new culture to shape and change. Anxiety is attacking me routinely. The self talk is obsessive and the feeling in my chest is pervasive. Some days are better than others, but last week it was off the charts. I daydream of an incompetent personified anxiety. The best I've been feeling lately is when I volunteer after work. I feel like I’ve contributed, I f

117. The Layoff Episode

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Last week, my department got laid off, along with dozens of others around my organization. In my  job as an internal consultant, I made use of my talents to help the people I cared the most about: the employees (from front line to leaders). It was in the direct help to employees that I derived the most work satisfaction. I will definitely be mourning the loss of the opportunity to help my co-workers for a long time to come. I am unsure what I will pursue. At this moment, many roads seem viable that I hadn't seen before. I am both strengthened and overwhelmed at the choices. I really want to be in a position in which I can continue to help workers achieve better outcomes for their customers and themselves. Extra Panel: The Psychology of it All It had been telegraphed to us that we would lose our jobs, so I had time to build up to it emotionally. Or so I thought! The mixture of shame, disappointment and anger that comes after a moment like this is not possible to prep