Technical Difficulties

Hi, gang. Ricky, Stroke Bloke and the back office would like to apologize for the tardiness of today’s post. Despite pre-banking this post, we’ve had what might euphemistically be called “technical difficulties”. So, without further ado….

Hopefully not!

Now was your weekend? On a macro level, mine was shit super, thanks for asking.

I’m super, thanks for asking!

I was dragged back to New York this weekend. Don’t get me wrong. I love Brooklyn. But it was a bit early for that. The plan of bringing Beth back for visits to Edinburgh in the depths of winter, then repatriating/emigrating in summer, was working perfectly. (Even if it wasn’t actually a plan.)

“I love it when a plan comes together!”

We’ve been settling in Edinburgh quite nicely. We’d just had a nice night out at The Stand comedy club. Beth knows Corstorphine Hill like the back of her hand. G-Mo’s feeling comfortable enough to be acting like a “daft cat” ((c) Paw Broon, 2013) again, and she and Seamus have their loyalty cards for Pets At Home.

Go here for more Oatmeal

But, yeah, I’ve been dragged back to town for a couple of meetings. In fact, if you’re reading this on Tuesday, I’m probably in one now. If you’re reading this on Wednesday, where the hell have you been? And if you’re a New Yorker and I’m not seeing you during the trip, sorry. It’s quick and busy. (twss)

As I write this, I’m sitting in UA 37, probably somewhere over Rockall. The one good thing about the trip, I was thinking, is that
the United flights usually have a good, wide selection of movies. Beth’s watching Burt Wonderstone, and they’ve just cracked a stroke gag. [See also….]

Unfortunately, the “New Releases” section is uninspired. But I’ve stumbled across Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects. I’ve liked Soderbergh for some time now. I remember reading about sex, lies and videotape when it came out and being intrigued. Not just because I was 15 and it had “sex” in the title. The movie was a little underwhelming when I finally saw it, but at least I got my first introduction to the excellent James Spader. And that’s the last time Soderbergh wasn’t at least interesting.

Side Effects is pretty good, so far. Jude Law’s always value for money. Well, not always. He’s often been great (most notably, his iridescent performance in The Talented Mister Ripley; also, Gattaca), but is sometimes overshadowed by the endless tabloid stories. And…

“To piss all over one Michael Caine classic is careless. To piss over two begins to look like artistic incontinence.”

[Did I ever tell you about how it would annoy me when the doctors would do the rounds at Rusk, and ask “Are you having any continence issues?” It happened all the time. Eventually I had to ask, “Why do you keep asking that?” Apparently, not only was I incontinent, my memory was screwed. Hilarious!]

Anyway, Jude’s doing a bang up job. If you don’t know, Side Effects is about a young woman suffering from anxiety and/or depression and the effects of a new, fictional SSRI-type drug on her. Or something like that.

Don’t ask me. I’m not a lawyer, not not a doctor, Jim.

Soderbergh is doing a great job of making me feel edgy, too. It helps, I suppose, that I’m cooped up in an uncomfortable wee airplane chair. And that the last time flight attendants asked passengers on a plane I was travelling on to shut all the blinds and take a nap for no apparent reason, it turned out we were turning around to head back to Ireland because New York was under attack.

Also, I’ve had to drag Beth back with me. I feel really shitty about that. And I accepted cash last night from my dad for the cab to the airport and some breakfast. Mostly because I wasn’t walking to an ATM in the middle of the night, but also because that’s where we are right now. That felt shitty, too. It’s a good job the emotional lability has passed, ‘cos my eyes were getting a little damp. Still, nice to know that I can’t dismiss the crushing sadness as a passing symptom of neurological damage, eh?

What he said.

I’ve always had a vague interest in SSRIs and similar drugs, as indicated in a previous post. Partly, I guess, because of the interesting history of Prozac as the poster drug for SSRIs. Including the whole cultural aspect (Prozac Nation, Prozac Diary, Prozac Diaries, Ally McBeal, The Sopranos, Blur’s Country House…). And, particularly if you’re not actually depressed, there’s something slightly glamorous about being miserable. Nick Hornby wrote about it in High Fidelity, and it’s always stuck with me, because I am one of those pop music obsessives who has listened to “literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss.”

Still…. Cute, though.

I’m reminded of the time I had to get a medical for my green card, and was incorrectly diagnosed with TB. It wouldn’t be so bad, I thought, if I could get a diagnosis of consumption instead. Then I could wander, windswept as a cloud, in a flappy coat and fringe, and girls called Lucretia who wrote poetry would want to save me.

As it turns out, I didn’t have TB. Just antibodies from the vaccination. And my only brushes with depression have been relatively
short and situational. I did have some therapy about five years ago, though. I kind of enjoyed it, as the closest I would get to being interviewed by the NME. And it did help me to start making the changes I needed for a chance at happiness.

More recently, the neuro-psychologist who’s been helping me with my adjustment to being a Strokie (mourning for what’s been lost, emotional lability and (clinical or otherwise) PTSD) has been brilliantly helpful. But I’ve never been prescribed SSRIs or any other antidepressant drug.

Who are you calling “Strokie”? It’s perfectly symmetrical.

What’s today’s moral? Clumsy jesting is no joke There isn’t one. But, having grown up in a place where talking about being down is an admission of weakness, I now see that it’s important to talk about about these things openly. In Side Effects, Jude’s character (an Englishman, natch) is asked why he chose to practice in the US. He replies:

Where I come from, if anyone goes to a psychiatrist or takes any medication, the assumption is that they’re sick. Here, the assumption is they’re getting better.

I also think its important to be open to letting people speak to you about their problems. If you ever feel that things are harder than you can take, get some help. And don’t feel alone. You’re not, because I know I’ve been there….

Next time on puns and jokes about 80s pop stars! Yay!

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