Thursday, August 27, 2009

Suffer Well

Jim and I have to go to a funeral in the morning. I've only been to three other funerals in my entire life, which is a good thing I suppose. One of our friends from high school committed suicide four days ago. He had been suffering from depression for decades now, and I guess his wife of nine years leaving him recently was just too much for him. He had moved back in with his parents so it was his mother that found him. Even though at one point in our lives, we had all been close, we hadn't really seen him in the past decade. Out of respect for his parents, though, we are going. Jim's folks and his still live in the same small town we all grew up in, and they both attend the same church each and every Sunday. I hope that is suffering is over and that he has finally managed to find some peace.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Informers

I've just finished watching The Informers. Its a new film written by Bret Easton Ellis based on his book of the same name which was published in 1994. The book is actually a collection of thirteen short stories, and this film has done its best to adapt these stories. It was directed by Gregor Jordan and features an ensemble cast, such as Winona Ryder, Billy Bob Thornton, Mickey Rourke, and Kim Basinger. It also was Brad Renfro's last film before his untimely death. The film basically covers stories of seven of the film's characters with these stories  taking place over the course of one week in 1983 Los Angeles. These stories cover the lives of movie executives, rock stars, and other morally challenged characters.

This film was by no means great, in fact, I'm not even sure if it is even good, but for a number of reasons, it ended up kicking me in the stomach.  In an instant, I was transported back to the year that I turned nineteen, 1983! This was to be a seminal year for me and my friends. This was the year that we graduated high school and were about to enter university. Our whole lives were supposedly stretched out in front of us, as in, the world was our oyster. We were invincible, or so we thought.  We dreamed of going off to uni, being away from home and anyone that knew us. We imagined that this would be our time to finally be sexually free, to be able to experiment and to be able to do this without fear of any consequences. How quickly this was all shattered and destroyed.

1983 was also a time when we had first started to hear about some mystery illness that  initially seemed to be randomly killing only gays and IV drug users. A plague of sorts. A plague that was also extremely terrifying especially since the medical community at the time appeared so utterly baffled and helpless. Uncertainty was everywhere. Once the heterosexual population started to show signs of this illness, fears escalated rapidly, as did denial. The medical community had yet to announce how this illness was spreading nor how it could be prevented from spreading.

One thing, though, that we seemed to recognize instinctively, were any thoughts of us finally being able to have indiscriminate sexual encounters would have to end if we were to remain immune. So much for us going off to university with thoughts of anonymous one night stands dancing in  our heads. Didn't matter any more if we were on the pill as a much larger issue now existed. Not getting pregnant would be the least of our worries. The party really was over, as was our innocence.

This movies touches so many aspects of what me and my friends were going through in our own personal lives twenty six years ago. It seems eerie watching it now, almost voyeuristic. It also almost appears to be a sequel to Ellis's book/movie Less Than Zero. The book originally was published back in 1985, with the movie of the same name coming out a couple of years later, although there were a lot of changes and departures. What may really end up being interesting will be if Ellis does indeed publish a sequel to Less Than Zero, something he has been promising for a little while now.

P.S. Speaking of the above movie, I just had to go and dig it out to watch yet again. Even though its a bit on the dated side, it still remains one of my favourites from that time period.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Suicide Is Painless II

Well, we really don't have much more info today than we had last night. The standoff with the police did eventually end peacefully approximately two and a half hours after it had started. No one was hurt, although allegedly Charley was holding his ex-girlfriend against her will with him in the garage. This is the same female that he beat beyond recognition last year, and who he was not to associate with by any form of communication imaginable as part of his sentence. Now, to be fair, it is never him who violates this order. Each and every time, it is her, and each and every time she does this, it comes to no good. Yes, she was very much the unfortunate and undeserving victim of last years assault, but otherwise she has been nothing but poison. He has changed almost beyond recognition from when we first met him six years ago, and these changes have all happened within the past two years.

To be fair, he has always struggled with mental issues. Since Sara was sixteen, over three years ago now, she has tried relentlessly to get this young man some form of medical help but so far, to no avail. His mother is in complete denial regarding  his mental state of mind, even at times such as this. At one point Sara even became a patient of Charley's family doctor in order to talk to him about her concerns. He is beyond desperate and is badly in need of professional health.

Right now, I'm kind of pressed for time so have to be brief, but I'd be remiss if I failed to mention how absolutely amazing the police were in regards to my girls last night. I had to call 911 with the correct address, and was fortunate to get the same dispatcher as Katie. While on the phone I asked if the police would be able to call us back once they had arrived at the scene and everything had been sorted out - at this point there was no hostage taking, et al! She said that normally they don't do this but she would ask.

The girls continued to call his house. At one point the phone was answered, and he identified himself as one of the officers on the scene. He engaged in conversation with Katie and she was able to supply him with a bit of Charley's mental history and possible current state of mind, etc. When all was said and done this particular officer ended up calling the girls back twice, and both times their conversations were fairly lengthy. He deserves to be commended as he was able to calm the girls down considerably, plus assure them that now there was a very good chance that Charley would end up receiving long needed medical attention. Patience he had in spades to be sure.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Suicide Is Painless

I was actually planning on talking about something entirely different than what I am about to talk about but even the best laid plans, etc, etc. Earlier this evening my foster daughter, Katie, and I were sitting in the living room having a bit of a chit chat. I was sitting on one of the couches while she was at the computer half heartedly surfing the net. We were'nt really talking about anything particularly heavy, just swapping humorous antidotes to pass the time. As Katie is a fairly social and popular girl, the phone pretty much rang endlessly while we talked. She's got call display so she pretty much ignored most of the calls. I had been dying for a washroom break for a bit so finally I made the move to head towards one of our bathrooms. One of the calls she had been ignoring was from one of the girls oldest male friends.

We're going to call him Charley. He's now 21, but I've known him since he was 15 and the girls were 13. He's always been a very sensitive and somewhat troubled young man. I never really knew how much until the past couple of years. Both my girls have been very protective of him often to there own detriment at times. By what Sara has told me as well as my own conversations with him, I suspect that he may very well be schizophrenic, and if not, then certainly mentally disturbed. He hears voices and often has black outs where he remembers nothing. Often these blackouts can cover many, many hours. He's also done some scary and violent things while blacked out or after voices have finished talking to him. While he was still a minor my daughter begged and pleaded with his parents to get him help of any kind. So far, they've done nothing although I would like to think that after what is actually still occurring this evening, that they do something now.

Once I discovered the entire truth about Charley and everything that was going on around him, I was forced to limit my daughters interaction with him. It was for their own safety. Any time that they've been allowed to socialize with him, they've had to do it under our roof. Yes, I am all too aware that they now are both adults and most likely going to interact with him whether or not they've got my permission or not. Thank goodness though, they are both pretty mature and level headed and recognize that right now he is not a positive factor in their lives. He has just recently finished serving five weekends in jail because of what he did last year to his ex-girlfriend. During one of his blackouts, he beat her to within an inch of her life at the busiest and major downtown intersection at 10pm on a Friday evening. Finding witnesses to this beating apparently was not an issue.

Not going into the immediate fallout from this attack, but there was a lot and it still appears to be happening a year and a half later. When Katie finally did answer his call this evening, he said that he was calling to apologize for what he was about to do. He said that he couldn't deal with the police anymore, nor could he return to jail. He couldn't go on anymore and was ending it now. She obviously started going hysterical. I didn't even get into the bathroom before I was back in the living room to find out what had gotten her so upset so quickly. Pretty much able to piece together what was going on from her end. He hung up as he needed to call two more people. She was convinced he was serious so we instructed her to call the police, etc. Finally after calling 911, she got him back on the phone. He was barely coherent by this point and understandably abusive on finding out what she had done - one of the others he called did exactly the same thing. I've never been so glad that when they were younger I had demanded the address and phone number as well as being allowed to talk to the parent's whenever they went to a friend's house for the first time. It made it easier providing accurate info to Emergency Services.

For about an hour and a half after she made the call she heard nothing. This was particularly distressing as during the course of their second call she had overheard him gasping for air, possibly vomiting and finally drifting away until she got no response from his end. Eventually, she reached someone at his house - one of the officers called to his residence. Currently Charley has managed to barricade himself in the garage with some sort of weapon, and most of his very residential street has been evacuated while SWAT or this city's equivalent deals with the situation. The officer was exceptionally gentle with my daughter. They actually asked me if they could go over just in case they could help. I said absolutely, as soon as the police spoke to me with their permission. Hello? OK, I get it. They were pretty much told that they would be turned away because they couldn't guarantee their safety, etc. The officer assured Katie that he would be looked after, and as long as the situation doesn't escalate into anything macabre or violent, he would be taken to the hospital and placed under 72 hour observation by order of the police.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Manic Street Preachers

One of my all time favourite bands is coming to Toronto the first weekend of October of this year. Of all of the concerts that I've seen in my lifetime, this is one band that I've not yet been able to enjoy live! Until now! I just got my tickets for their show less than an hour ago. I am so excited that I am practically vibrating. I feel like a love sick teenager with my very first crush. Manic Street Preachers look out! I've been literally waiting to see you since 1992. I guess there is something to be said for patience after all. Much more later from me once I've come back down to earth...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Methadone Pretty Indeed!

The following is a reaction to a debate - somewhat heated to be sure - that I recently got into with someone who once had been one of my dearest friends. Finally after a decade and a half of a pretty hardcore opiate addiction, he decided to go on methadone and has been on it just shy of two months. Already, he is spouting the rhetoric that I hear so very often from the majority of methadone patients at the clinic that I attend, and once again, I found myself frustrated. If some of what I am about to say doesn't make complete sense, I apologize in advance as I was on a bit of a tear when I typed most of this!

I know that Methadone Maintenance Therapy and its success/benefits can certainly be a hotly debated topic on any given day within the opiate addict community. I certainly can understand why it is something that can get both the for and against sides worked up into quite the lather. There are many times when I wish that there was at least another solution to MMT rather than cold turkey and abstinence available to me, but unfortunately, in southwestern Ontario, Canada this is pretty much all that I've got right now.

Quite often, the meth program in my city can be a very negative experience. The few doctors that are part of it often stress only the negative - the high recidivism rate if you were to actually complete the program or the likelihood that you would spend your entire life in treatment. There can be little to no counciling, plus often they push and push you until you are on an almost unmanageable high dose often prescribing amounts way above what was your true blocking dose. Then they discourage you when you want to start to taper down and decrease your dose. I refused to go any higher than 95mg once I felt that I had stabilized and am now currently on a dose of 60 that I find is more than adequate.. My husband stopped increasing his at 145mg and is currently on a dose of 90. A lot of the other patients were encouraged to go on doses that were at least double our amounts. No wonder they all felt like crap most of the time, not to mention feeling rather defeated.

Never mind all of the talk of methadone's side effects. This alone can defeat you before you're even given a chance to get started. How is it possible to imagine a life in recovery, if you're never given the required encouragement to attempt to even get there? I think that a lot of methadone''s side effects are in reality urban legends. Now after spending three and a half years on it - round two for me also, as I spent almost the same amount of time on it a decade ago - I found many of the supposed possible side effects or reactions never materialized unless you literally "willed" them upon yourself. I found that those that bought into and blindly believed and accepted all the garbage that our doctors were feeding us actually developed exactly what they were told they would develop. Self-fulfilling prophecy really.

For many this became their license to not have to work or even look for work and justified their desire to eat any sweet thing that passed remotely within their line of vision and pound on those extra 70 pounds. Suddenly they felt completely justified in needing a previously unprescribed prescription for Ritalin to keep them going. While many of the people that I met while I was in treatment fell firmly into this category there were some that could just not settle into the program and found meth treatment to be an unfulfilled painful step of their recovery process. For these unfortunate few there were real and valid issues with methadone.

Yes, you definitely feel more exhausted and it is hard to focus at times. Suddenly you feel as if you have developed ADD. No doubt years of opiate abuse combined with meth's assault on our bodies throws our metabolism right out of whack and we all seem to pacify this with an increase in our daily sugar intake. Obviously a weight gain will soon follow. But is this weight gain solely from the meth or are we no longer running ourselves into the ground constantly searching for our next hit? Once the hunt is removed we immediately become more sedentary. Combined with the fact that each and every penny is no longer being spent on illegal substances we find that for the first time in a long time we actually have a well stocked fridge and a full cupboard. We can finally get rid of that jumbo jar of peanut butter and $.99 package of plain crackers.

With this kind of philosophy from the clinic it was no wonder that the majority of the patients felt as if they had traded one losing card for another. Had there been a little bit more positive feedback from the doctors I think that they would have seen entirely different results. I talked to so many that were also suffering from constant low level depression while in treatment. Because I felt that I was being prescribed my true stabilizing dose, once there, all cravings for opiates disappeared. Honestly

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Depeche Mode | Molson Amphitheatre | 2009 07 24

Well, of course the concert was simply bloody amazing. All that I expected and ever hoped for, utterly no disappointment whatsoever! All of us had an amazing time that's for sure. I screamed and jumped around like mad and sang out the words to all of the songs loudly. It was insane. As I've not got much time right now, I'll leave you with a review of the show from the Toronto Sun . An update very soon.

Depeche Mode's Gahan Thrills Fans

By JANE STEVENSON, Sun Media 25th July 2009, 5:09pm

Veteran British electro-dance-pop outfit Depeche Mode kicked off the North American leg of their so-called Tour Of The Universe in Toronto on Friday night at the Molson Amphitheatre with frontman Dave Gahan looking no worse the wear.

Gahan, you may recall, had a health scare back in May when he had a low-grade malignant tumor removed from his bladder, leading to the postponement of six European dates that were eventually rescheduled.

And just earlier this month, he also injured his leg on stage at a gig in Spain.

But if Gahan is feeling the effects of his recent health woes, he sure didn't show it on Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd as he gleefully performed his trademark dance moves that included some sexy hip-wiggling, shaking his backside at the audience and twirling around with his mic stand high in the air.

Yes, Gahan looked skinny, but when doesn't he, and his deep voice was clear and strong over the course of a 22-song show that stretched over two hours.

The group, which included founding members Martin Gore on guitar-keyboards and a sunglasses-wearing Andrew Fletcher on keyboards, played on an eye-catching stage dominated by a large LED video screen and matching circular ball screen hanging above the group.

Gore also looked sharp in a shiny silver sequin suit.

Unfortunately, it took a while for Depeche Mode to find their groove as they trotted out the obligatory new material from their latest album, Sounds Of The Universe, including the rather somber In Chains and Wrong, and the slightly more upbeat, Hole To Feed.

The audience, however, seemed thrilled just to have Gahan, in particular, in their presence and were on their feet immediately, cheering whenever he took off an article of clothing or was in exceptionally good dance form.

And when the hits finally kicked in - this is a group who have sold 100 million albums worldwide since their formation in 1980 - with Walking In My Shoes, which featured a backdrop of a crow on the video screen with a large eyeball projected on the ball above - the crowd couldn't be contained as they happily sang, danced and clapped along.

A string of crowd pleasers, It's No Good, A Question Of Time, and Precious - the latter from 2005's Playing The Angel - were interrupted by another buzz kill song, Fly On the Windscreen, followed by Gore taking over on lead vocals for two back-to-back ballads, the new song Little Soul and Home (maybe to give Gahan a break), although Gahan eventually returned for two more unmemorable new song from Songs Of The Universe, Come Back and Fragile Tension.

The thing about Depeche Mode songs when they're good, they're great, but when they're bad, they seem to go on forever.

Thankfully, the second half of the show really kicked into high gear, beginning with the dramatic I Feel You, followed by the dance-happy Policy Of Truth, Enjoy The Silence - featuring Gahan, Gore and Fletcher as stoned-faced astronauts in a video - Never Let Me Down Again and an encore that brimmed with some kinky material like Master And Servant, Strangelove (featuring a video in which a young Asian woman sucked the toe of a young redheaded woman who eventually exposed her breasts), and the mother of all Depeche Mode songs, Personal Jesus.
***1/2 (3.5 out of five)
Depeche Mode

Molson Amphitheatre

Friday night


In Chains


Hole To Feed

Walking In My Shoes

It's No Good

A Question Of Time


Fly On the Windscreen

Little Soul


Come Back

Fragile Tension

In Your Room

I Feel You

Policy Of Truth

Enjoy The Silence

Never Let Me Down Again



Master And Servant



Personal Jesus

Waiting For The Night