Sunday, October 30, 2011

Somewhat distractable, aka the Scarlet Macaw

Despite the fact that I've been sewing my own costumes and historical clothing for years now, it's very rare that I'll actually put effort into a proper costume for Halloween. I usually end up throwing on whatever comes to hand and saying "yes," when people ask me "Are you Laura Ingalls? Jane Eyre? Jane Austen? Lizzie Bennet? A princess? A pirate?" etc etc.

This year, got invited to a friend's party and didn't want to spend all evening in a corset, which turns out was a good idea because I'm pretty sure I ate like four cupcakes and half a tub of hummus on my own. Anyway, here's the look:



The wings are made from a bent wire coat hanger, covered with fun foam and newspaper. I had to dye the blue feathers with watered-down acrylic craft paint, but the red and yellow I bought as-is at Michaels. I used masking tape and a hot glue gun, and I only ended up with one blister from the crazy-hot glue, which means I did really well on the accidental injury front.

Anyway, The wings took one evening and a few hours in the morning before the party, and the makeup I just dug out of my theatrical stash the day before. The shirt is one that I already owned. Overall, it was really easy to wear, and it was fun to do something so different from my usual projects!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

St. Crispin's Day

I make no secret of my love of Shakespeare. I have a short list of my favorites, categorized by genre--Twelfth Night is my favorite comedy, for example, and Hamlet my favorite tragedy. My favorite historical piece is, without a doubt, Henry V. I ready it for the first time in high school, when my entire Rhetoric class was required to memorize and present the famous St. Crispin's Day speech that Henry delivers to his men before the Battle of Agincourt. He prefaces his speech by releasing any man who doesn't wish to fight, and then goes on to paint a picture of the future, where the men who stand beside him that day will look back and remember their bravery and brotherhood.

Years later, the rallying words still never fail to make my skin prickle and often there's a suspicious tightness in my throat. The cadence of the speech itself is so familiar as to have worn grooves in my mind, and I find myself mouthing the words as I read, or breathing them softly to myself whenever I hear them spoken. And since my own limited eloquence can never hope to convey all that these words make me feel, I'll bow to the Bard and let them speak for themselves:

This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

You, Me, We

For the most part, this blog is about playing pretend. Which is all well and good, but real life is out there no matter how far and fast you run. So let's talk about something real for a minute. Hi, my name is Katie...and I struggle with depression.

Things started going downhill in May of 2009, but it wasn't until August of the same year that I realized I had a real problem. That was the first time impulsively I attempted suicide. Over the ensuing eight months, I kept a journal that, in hindsight, chronicles my deteriorating mental health in terrible clarity. I experienced everything from euphoria to panic attacks to cutting and at least one other suicidal episode before I finally got myself in to see a doctor.

My friends and family did everything right. They supported and cared for me, and encouraged me to get help. In the end, though, the decision had to be my own. You see, depression is a horrible, insidious, isolating monster. Not only does it tear you down from the inside, it also convinces you that it's all in your head. I don't feel bad all the time, so maybe it's not real, or What if I'm just doing it for attention?

It's not all in your head. It's not your fault. You are not alone. And, there is help.

Depression and anxiety are real disorders, and they are frighteningly common. It took my doctor about 30 seconds to tell me on no uncertain terms that I was depressed, and she put me on a low-dose antidepressant to pull me out of the danger zone. And you know what? It worked. Within three days, my coworkers were commenting on how happy I seemed. My parents could tell the difference almost immediately. It was wonderful.

Unfortunately, despite so many wonderful advances in modern medicine, there's still a secrecy and shame about mental health--in some cases, an actual stigma. I had a run-in with a coworker once, about a month after I first saw my doctor, where he decided it would be a good idea to lecture me about how he's "really anti-drug on things like that." I ended up telling him where to shove it, but if he had come at me like that prior to being put on medication? Dis. As. Ter. My friend Jackie put it best when she said:

Mental illness is not a stigma. Depression in particular is not a stigma. As I tell my patients with depression (especially those with Dysthymia) you have to think about it like you would diabetes. Diabetes is chronic. There are days when things will be really good and your blood sugar will be within the perfect range. And then there are days where it will be like riding a rollercoaster without a harness. Most diabetes is due to your body not processing a chemical correctly, in this case insulin. Most depression is caused by your body not processing a chemical correctly, in that case serotonin. Now diabetics aren't shunned away from like Quasimodo...why should people with depression be treated poorly? The answer is they shouldn't.

Having depression or anxiety does not make you less of a person, and asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. Don't let your own mind or anyone else tell you otherwise. It's hard. The one thing you need to do--take responsibility for your own mental health--is the one thing you feel least equipped to do, and it can seem impossible at times. And unfortunately, it's not an instantaneous fix. There is no magic pill that will solve all your problems. I'm one of the lucky ones in that the first thing my doctor tried did work, and worked well, but I've had to change things over time to get back to where I was before I got sick. My doctor and I have worked together for over a year now to perfect a combination of things that works for me, so that I can manage my mental health and function as a whole, content person. There are still issues--I feel wonderful, but I'm struggling with weight gain as a side effect of my medication, for example. But every step is progress, and it's always worth it.

On the whole, I suppose I'm sharing this for several reasons. Me? I'm nothing special. But I made it, and if I can, so can you. And when it was worst for me, it really helped to know that I wasn't the only one. And because every time I say something about my own experience with depression, it seems like someone else comes out of the woodwork--either they struggle with it as well, or they know someone who does...and it helps to be able to talk about it. And so I talk about it, because we are not alone.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things I Did At Mississinewa 1812 by Katie Jacobs

1. Made 0 purchases.
2. Handed out 1 business card.
3. Took 2 naps.
4. Hung out with 3 super-awesome non-bloggers.
5. Tried 4 new kinds of period drinks.
6. Threw up 5 separate times.

So the moral of the story is, I had a great time. No more recipe sampling "for science" though!