Friday, April 15, 2016

Needs vs. Wants

Since I’ve been unemployed, I feel really guilty about buying things that are ‘wants’ more than ‘needs’. I think I can live a much simpler and organized life if I can stick to just ‘needs’. How do you curtail your ‘wants’?

And there are things that sort of come in-between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. Like a 2 cup Pyrex glass measuring cup. I have a 1 cup one. I bought a 2 cup plastic one but found that it isn’t accurate. I could have kept using just the one cup. But a 2 cup one makes cooking ‘easier’. I can even break an egg in a 2 cup, beat it with a small beater in the cup, then put a cup or more of other liquid ingredients and adjust if necessary (when the egg turns out to be less than 1/4 cup).

Another thing that I consider as in-between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ is pierces. I might find maybe a pair of pierce that I like once a year. I don’t go hunting for them so when I find one it’s a serendipitous encounter that I might not be able to reproduce (like finding one at a travel destination). If I don't get it then, I might never be able to get the exact one. A pierce can elevate my mood. It’s not a necessity but has benefits to my well being.

                                     (By Dana Payne & By Pål Berge from Bryne, Norway, via Wikimedia Commons)

Things that are ‘wants’ are books, music, rarely a piece of clothing (ex., a Denver Bronchos Super Bowl championship sweatshirt when I already have enough sweatshirts).

Maybe I need to have a budget for my ‘wants’? Maybe I should decide how often I can purchase from my ‘wants’ list?

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In March I’ve made:

Irish Brown Bread: so far the best recipe I’ve tried for Irish brown bread.
Irish Butter Cookies: Nutty, Buttery, and crispy

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Depression and Sexuality

Sexuality and Depression

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, ’on average, 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner’, ‘nearly 2 million women raped in a year.

‘Rape’ is a strong word and I’m not comfortable using that word for my experience. But if rape means ‘sexual intercourse against one’s will’, it would fit the bill.

About a decade ago when I did not have the diagnosis of depression, the incident happened. Looking back, I’m sure I was depressed at the time. My partner wanted sex and reached out to me. I just remember thinking, ‘no, no’ in my mind, not being able to react in any way. I was just lying there. My partner maybe didn’t realize that I wasn’t reacting at all. He reached climax and then rolled over and went to sleep pretty quickly. It was unusual, in the sense that usually he lingers afterwards.

I think it is due to that experience, I started thinking men just want to have sex to get pleasure; that it probably didn’t even matter who they are with; they just need a warm body.

The thought did not turn me away from sex immediately. But whenever there was a discord in sexual communication, the idea would return, each time gaining more power. I wish I could do away with the thought. I wish that that incident didn’t happen or that I could go back to the pre-incident set of mind.

Having depression doesn’t help. It’s said that with depression, you have decreased libido. Which is understandable since you just don’t find interest in doing anything with depression. But on the other hand, most of the antidepressants have side effect of decreased libido. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. 

Sexual intercourse became an obligation. I totally wouldn’t mind if I never had another one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Depression and Memory

One thing I really worry about my depression is it’s effect on my memory. I can’t remember a lot of things and I don’t know if it’s normal or it’s because of my depression.

When I was a child (well, now too), I was a fan of Sherlock Holmes. I read in one of his stories that he has a good memory of what he’s interested in but doesn’t bother remember things he considered unworthy of remembering. I thought that was cool (don’t ask me why). But at the time, for a while, I remember deciding what information is important and what’s not important enough for me to remember. I don’t remember what exactly I thought was worthless. That could have a long effect, too.

Like if I was asked what was on the school entrance exam one year later, I can't recall. I can’t remember who the culprit was in mysteries that I’ve only read once. I can’t recall a lot of things that I did during international vacations (which I’d think are impressionable). 

By Doctor Jana, via Wikimedia Commons

I feel like my brain is a sieve. Because depression is one of the risk for having dementia, it’s really scary. I hope I can leave this world before I lose my mind totally. Am I a coward?

Monday, March 14, 2016

New Medication for My Depression

Previously, I mentioned that I’m ready to try another antidepressant. 

At the last appointment I had with my psychiatrist I said that since I’m tired of being tired, I want to try another medication. I had read about a newer drug that increased ‘functionality’. Unfortunately, since it was too new and only had brand name medication my insurance will not cover it. The insurance company website recommended a different drug from the same class. So I bought that name up in my appointment. Reviewing all the medications I’ve tried so far, it turned out that I have tried one medication in that class. But like most medication, it made me sleepy and did not work for me. And when I get sleepy from side effects, it’s really dangerous. I would have to fight my sleepiness while driving. There were more than a few times I’ve swerved from my lane. Thank God, I commuted in a rural area with very few traffic. There were few times when I just stopped, parked my car at the shoulder, and took a five to ten minute nap to be able to continue driving. 

Anyway, in case of antidepressants, just because one medication doesn’t work doesn’t mean another from the same class will not work. So I tapered off one of the antidepressants I was taking and started on the new medication. I think I’ve been doing a lot better. A lot less tired. I’m probably sticking to this medication until further problem arises. Just like that, after trying so many medication, I think I’ve found the ones that works for me. I might have to (probably have to) take them for the rest of my life, but I’m still grateful.

By Keffy, via Wikimedia Commons

The problem with having depression is that you don’t know what’s your normal or average person’s normal. I can’t say I’m totally at the level before I had depression. But since it was when I was a child, it’s difficult to compare, too. But as long as I can think and act without too much difficulty, I think it’s OK.

As a side note, my psychiatrist introduced me to a device, a brain stimulator. He said that since I had depression for long and am finding trouble finding good medication, I can try it. It looks weird but it is FDA approved for treatment. 

Guns, Guns, and More Guns (Now on Campus)

Last Friday, March 11th, Georgia Senate passed (37-17 vote) a bill that would allow canceled guns on all public colleges .

How are we going to know who is going to be the next mass shooter? Since multiple students will have it, just having a gun wouldn’t raise any alarms.

What if one students shoots another student and claims self-defense? The shooter can say that the shooter was certain the other student had a gun (no matter if he/she actually had one or not) and was about to take it out and felt danger to own’s life.

A female student can be assaulted easily at gun point.

By Alian Gear Holster, via Wikimedia Commons

But as incredulous the news sounded to me, I found out that this is NOT the first state to do so (I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised?). Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missisippi, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, Texas have already done so (is someone going to tell me that there is no increase in violence in these state campuses since canceled weapons have been allowed?)

U.S. seems less and less like a civilized country. In a civilized country, people rely on law and law enforcement officers to keep the peace. U.S. is going back to those days (wild, wild west) when the land was still wild, no reliable law and officers, and you had to defend for yourself.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Emotional Quandary - Differences in Life Goals

The last 2,3 weeks have been difficult. Do you have expectations for your partner’s career when you get married?

I did. And just recently, after close to 10 years of marriage, I realized that his goal was different from what I assumed it was. To be honest, I was upset, disappointed. I questioned if what I’ve done had affected his manner; if I had worked harder would he have worked harder; am I as mediocre professionally as he is, is that why we are together?

But then, couple of things occurred to me. 
  1. It was my ‘assumption’ no matter what he said or did.
  2. Reaching a certain hight in career is not in everyone’s life goals or means to an end. 
  3. He is the same person I married: gentle, patient, knowledgable.
  4. It’s not like I don’t waste time surfing on the web so who am I to throw stones?

Nothing has changed. I was the fool, making assumption. I also came to the conclusion that for our dreams to come true, I need to do a lot more in my career. We have so far lived wherever he gets a job but that might not get us where we want to be.

By hobvias sudoneighm, via Wikimedia Commons

But I’m still bitter. He hasn’t taught summer courses for the last 7 years and was able to work on his hobby (I thought it was his 2nd job but it doesn’t seem like it anymore). He has taken trips 2,3 times a year (national and international) and bought pretty pricy softwares for his hobby/2nd job. While I worked year around and took on house-work as my job, my 2nd job so that he has enough time for his jobs.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Caffeine and Depression

Couple of years ago when I was trying to find a way out of my depression, I came across a lot of websites like these, that recommended not drinking caffeine or at least decreasing the amount to drink.

I’ve didn’t really take it to heart since I only drank a cup of coffee in those days. But in the last few years my caffeine consumption has increased, especially when I’m home on the weekends. I will end up drinking 1-2 cups of coffee (no sugar) and 2 cans of diet soda a day. I’ve tried switching sodas to tea (caffeinated) thinking that at least it’s a healthier option. But it’s just so easier and time efficient to get a can of soda vs. taking time boiling water, steeping, and then taking out the tea bags. 

So just last week I decided to find what was wrong with drinking moderate amounts of caffeine. I don’t chug these drinks. I will drink it at least over an hour time span. And I definitely am not a Red Bull drinker.

By C. Michael Neely via Wikimedia Commons

An old study done in 1978 on psychiatric patients reported that there is a relationship between high caffeine consumption and worse depressive symptoms.

Another study published in 1981 looking at caffeine consumption of college students reported that compared to people who don’t drink caffeine, students who drank had higher rates of anxiety and depression.

But this could be that people with depression drink more caffeine to get a boost of their energy or mood. I certainly am more prone to grab a diet soda on days that I’m not doing well but I have things I need to be doing. And a study in 2009 studying the effect of caffeinated chewing gum seemed to support this idea. People who were given caffeinated gum seemed to be more alert and energetic.

And another study in 2008 seem to back up this idea. Teens with depression were found to drink more caffeine but as treatment for for depression progressed, they drank less compared to those who did not get any treatment for depression.

More recently there has been articles claiming possible benefits of caffeine. The two articles by the same lead author in 2011 and 2012 concluded that people were less depressive and less suicidal the more they drank caffeine.

This interesting study although done on mice, found that caffeine had decreased the effects of stressful situations.

This article ( 2015 that looked at 11 different studies concluded that risk of depression decreased with increase in caffeine consumption.

But there is one caveat, there does seem to be withdrawal symptoms from caffeine intake. So you might want to keep your caffeine consumption at a certain level daily. But this study in 1992 was done on ‘normal’ adults. It might be different for people who have depression.

This article wrote in 2014 on the Mayo Clinic webpage seems to summarize the current idea between caffeine and depression. 


When you think of China, Japan, England where people drink tea, another source of caffeine, I think it will be difficult to claim that caffeine increases or even decreases depression. In China and Japan, people drink caffeinated tea all day and there isn’t a epidemic of depression in either countries. Nor are they totally free from depression and suicide.

What does caffeine do to you? Why do you drink coffees and sodas?

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:

Strawberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars: Made it for Valentines Day. Pretty rich.

Satay Chicken Noodle Salad: Very good and pretty to look at with all the colors. Made a warm version for a winter night dinner.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Fantasy Supreme Court

Over the weekend the shocking news of the death of Antonin Scalia came. President Obama needs to appoint a replacement justice.

Do you know that there is absolutely no qualification for becoming a justice? Age, gender, off course but you don’t have to be a lawyer or have attended law school. You don’t have to be a native-born citizen unlike the POTUS.  And there has been actually a justice who did not attend any law school.

So who is your Fantasy Supreme Court justice? I’d vote for Michelle Obama. She is a minority (woman and African American). She actually has a law degree and has been a lawyer. Need I say more.

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:

Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Wings with Honey Garlic Sauce: Did come out really crispy!
Homemade Potato Bread: Making it with real potato vs potato flakes does made a big difference

Friday, February 12, 2016

Undermining My Achievement

My husband would on regular basis say, ‘thank you for your hard work.’ I’ve never been comfortable with it.

  1. I’m just doing house work: my husband teaches and does research on his own time which I consider his second job. I’ve had my job as an NP for my day job, so I considered house work my job.  
  2. If I did not do the dishes once or twice and let it pile up, the ‘hard work’ is only my fault. It wouldn’t have been ‘hard’ if I had washed them after each meal.
  3. When he tells me that after I’ve done cleaning work like vacuuming or ironing, I feel ashamed because more time than not, I’ve put off doing them for some week before I finally got to it.
  4. If I was in the kitchen cocking a rather elaborate meal (instead of just a stir-fry, for instance), baking quick breads or cookies. I feel like I’m the one using time for ‘frivolous’ things instead of cooking regular meals and don’t deserve the words.

But I think I’m going to stop feeling guilty. I think from now on I’ll just take it as what it is. Maybe it’s like brushing it off when someone compliments you on how you dress. But maybe I’m wrong.

The other thing that occurred to me is that I don’t think I’ve ever said that to him for his ‘regular’ jobs. I might say ‘congratulations’ for getting through the semester or finishing an aspect of research but that’s about it. Maybe I should be saying it to him on a regular basis.

Does your partner thank you for doing housework? 

By Vitor Mazuco, via Wikimedia Commons

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:

Low Sugar Meyer Lemon Chia Seed Muffins: Fluffy, high-rising. I did use ground flax seed since I didn’t have chia seeds.

Chai Spiced Pear Bread: Although I did change the ratio of spices

Monday, February 8, 2016

Is it Just Morbid Curiosity?

Being a football fan I go to on a regular basis during the season. The last time I was there (Feb 6), I saw the headlines for Johnny Manziel, the Cleveland Brown’s quarterback. It was pretty obvious that he got into another trouble. I’m not a Manziel fan and since I watch a lot more pro-football more than college football, I didn’t even know about him before he entered NFL. I’m also not a Cleveland Brown’s fan.

Still, I found myself clicking on the headline to read what he did THIS time.

And I question my motive and feel irritated by myself for reading the article. From what I’ve learned in the past, he is probably an domestic violence perpetrator and an alcohol abuser. The only thing that I should care for is to hope that his girlfriend gets out of this relationship and that he finds insight to his problems and straightens out.

Am I enjoying his downfall? It’s a scary question.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Problem With Having ‘Me’ Time

A lot is said about the importance of taking time for yourself, to give yourself a break, to give yourself time to do what you really want to do. But I think this created some problems in my life.

My former job was a ten-hour day, 4 days a week job. The commute was an hour each way. And at least two to three work days a week, I cooked dinner from scratch after coming home around 6 pm. Then washed dishes by hand. Then prepared lunch for the next day. By the time I finished all that, it was 7:30 pm at the earliest, most of the time past 8 pm. By nine, my husband would stop working to relax so I would stop whatever I was doing and play card, talk, listen to music, scratch the dog, etc. and combination of those. We went to bed at 10 pm because we had to get up at 5:45 the next morning. 

By KoS, via Wikimedia Commons 

So that left about an hour to an hour 30 minutes for ‘myself’. I would be tired from work on regular basis. My anxiety probably it worse. I just wanted to relax. Which would mean I would just read ‘cozy’ mysteries or surf the web mindlessly and aimlessly.

Problem was, whenever my husband wanted to talk to me, share a news with me and interrupt ‘my’ time, I got irritated. I think if he did it more than once, I didn’t bother to hide my irritation. It was really selfish. I realized that now because I’m currently unemployed. I hope I learned from this experience and I won’t do that again when I get a different job in the future. 

How do you carve out your own time?

Battle of Depression vs. Anxiety

It is known that a person can have, and tend to have more than one mental health disorders together. The chance of having depression and anxiety disorder together can be high as 30 to 80%.

As the previously linked article writes, having both means higher chance of having more, sever, and/or longer duration of problems.

By Abraham van Beijeren , via Wikimedia Commons

But I’m wondering if there are also benefits to having both. A weird thought. But idea came to me when I wondered how I was able to function normally (relatively) in society. When people have depression, you lack the will to do things. Yet, for a total of 12 years I was able to work as a nurse and a nurse practitioner. There were several days when the side effects of medication made me too drowsy to drive to work but depression itself did not hinder me going to work. And maybe it was due to anxiety.

No matter how much experience I compiled, facing patient caused me anxiety. I remember taking big deep breaths before entering each patient’s room, to steel myself, to put on a mask of a nurse. I was daily worried about not being able to finish work on schedule so especially first thing in the morning I was tense. 

Once a nurse practitioner, each patient encounter made me nervous and afraid thinking the next patient might have a problem that I might not able to make heads or tails of (not even know how to work up). The worry that the next patient might be a drug-seeker was always there.

Those fears and anxiety made me hyper-alert while depression would have made me numb and slow. My anxiety probably wiped out depressive symptoms on work days.

I did crash on the weekends. The last few years I realized that I became depressed pretty much every other weekends, becoming despondent. It almost seemed like I needed the job to stay functional even though I dreaded it.

As much as anxiety hinder regular interaction with people, maybe it was helping me do my job.

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:

White Chili: Nice on a cold day when you are tired of tomato-based chili.
15-Minute Fried Noodles: Simple weekday meal.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Whose Role Is It?

#OscarSoWhite controversy reminded me of something. In the 2015 rom-com ‘Aloha’ Emma Stone played a one quarter Chinese and one quarter Hawaiian descent. The movie was criticized for ‘white-washing’.

And there are opinions that say a transgender role should be played by a transgender person.

I’m not saying that these opinions and criticisms are wrong. But there are couple of problems with this idea:

  1. There’s a reason why those people are called ‘actors’. They act. They become something that they are not. We enjoy stories of actors bulking up, putting on pounds, losing weight, training for sword-fights and horse-riding, learning different accents and how to play an instrument, researching different diseases or occupation. We enjoy great actors/actresses become what they aren’t an marvel at their talent. It is entertainment.
  1. For the director directing any movie, each movie is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring into picture their vision. Each director will have a unique story and character interpretation. It’s their ‘art’.
  1. Movie making is business for production companies and some producers. They do have to/want to make money. They will cater to the people who will buy the tickets, DVDs, probably to a lesser extent, people who will rent DVDs. So there are even going to be total miscasts for the sake of marketing. Like (a nerdy) computer hacker played by muscular, bulky Chris Hemsworth in 2015 ‘Blackhat’.

In our 2015 ‘Brand Is Crisis’, Sandra Bullock played a role originally written for a man. Should she have not? Or because she is a woman and has less opportunity for a starting role, it’s OK.

Should the role of HIV patient have been played by an actual patient instead of Tom Hanks in the movie ‘Philadelphia’ (1993). HIV patients are marginalized and have few opportunities to get regular jobs.

The movie ‘Steve Jobs’. Should we have stuck with the 2013 version because it’s played by an American, Ashton Kutcher verses the 2015 version which was played by an Irish-German actor Michael Fassbender. Or does it not matter because both are white male?

The 2011 ‘Wuthering Heights’, James Howson played Heathcliff, becoming the first black actor to play the role. Should he not have? Or is it fine because it gave roll to a non-white actor?

Should the paraplegic role played by Denzel Washington in 1999 ‘Bone Collector’ be remade with a paraplegic actor?

Would it be all right for Cate Blanchett to play a lesbian (2015 ‘Carole) only if there are enough lesbian actresses around and getting plenty of other acting jobs and they are sick and tired of ‘acting’ like a lesbian?

We do need more female or non-white actors, directors, writers, producers, production company CEOs, and critiques to level out the field. But where do we draw the line as to what’s correct and what’s wrong?


And I’m kind of sick and tired of hearing about Oscar ‘snubs’. There are ALWAYS going to exist. There are only so many who can be nominated and there’s only one person winning in each category. And it is a pretty well known fact that Oscar prefers certain types of movies and roles.

If you do comedy, you probably won’t get it. If you do villains, there’s only a slim chance. Take the late Alan Rickman. He was NEVER even nominated for Oscars and he said, “Parts win prizes, not actors. You always know a part that’s got ‘prize winner’ written all over it, and it’s almost like anybody could say those lines and somebody will hand them a piece of metal.” If we continue with the diversity theme, on the other hand, Denzel Washington has been nominated for Oscars 6 times and won twice. I wouldn’t say that people who were awarded are not worth it. What I’m saying is even if an actor/actress is great, if they don’t play movies and roles that Oscar prefers, they are out of luck.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Meal Plans Do Really Help

I’ve never really had a meal plan. I couldn’t think of planning a meal a head of time and shopping based on it. My thought was, ‘I buy what’s on sale, what looks good and buy so how can I plan ahead?’

But I was wrong. I can still do what I do and still use a meal plan. A lot of times vegetables, proteins, and starches are swappable. 

And a great benefit of meal planning that I found: I use ingredients a lot more timely. It used to be that I might buy an ingredient and let them just sit in the fridge or cabinet and forget to use them for months on end. Now if I buy an ingredient that looked good and was on sale but not on my list, I can go ahead and plan a meal using it, for maybe the week after or even next month.

The result, an organized shelves. There are less ‘stuff’. I can see what is leftover = I’ll be able to plan and use whatever that exists = Less waste.

Another benefit: I cook a little more. Some days, it used to be that I came home tired from work and having to think of dinner was just a drag. It was easy to rely on frozen pizzas and take-outs. Now I can plan ahead and do somethings ahead (like cutting vegetables or cooking the protein). Just knowing what I needed to do to prepare for dinner just makes me that much ready to cook, too.

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:
Swedish Meatballs: Kind of like stroganoff. 

Big Sur Carrot Tangerine Bread: With also nuts in it, it felt pretty healthy. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Remission and Residual Symptoms of Depression: How much of depression can be treated?

I think it was only about a decade or two ago, the prevailing idea for depression treatment was to put someone on medication for 9 months then stop. 

But then, people realized that
  • Some people need longer treatment
  • For some people, antidepressants won’t work or they need more than one

Now, it is found that even people who are ‘successfully’ treated or thought to have gone into remission a lot of times still have ‘residual’ symptoms.

Still, I’d like to think that hope is not all lost. There are newer treatments coming out; three new drugs in the past year or so; transcranial magnetic stimulation; vagus nerve stimulation. It is true that none of these are ‘silver bullets’ either. It works for some people, it doesn’t seem to do much for others. And yet, combinations of these treatments, including psychotherapy, might still work.

By Nina Aldin Thune, via Wikimedia Commons

The residual symptom that I really struggle with is fatigue. Some days I am willing to do, wanting to do things yet I’m tired, not necessarily sleepy. I have to really push myself to do things. The more I get treatment for depression, the more I realize the gap between my (hopefully) baseline self and the being dragged by depression self. So it is really frustrating on days that I’m tired because I know that I can do more, that I can be a lot productive if it weren’t for these symptoms.

The last medication I tried seemed to do good for me. I was excited. Then after few months on it I realized that the side effect were not worth it. I had to give it up. By then I’ve already tried several medication and was sick and tired of dealing with side effects. So for the last 9 months or so I’ve been on the same two medication still fighting the fatigue. But I think I’m ready to try another now.

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:
Orzo & Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta, Olives & Oregano: I did make it a warm meal because it was cold outside

Lemon Mascarpone Blondies: not your typical blondies 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Everyone of Us is Responsible for What's Happening in Congress

This is not just about voting. We are not finished when we cast a vote. We need to keep an eye on what our representatives are doing: 
  • What they are voting for and what they are opposing;
  • Are they being influenced by money, lobbyists, big money-contributing industries instead of really doing something for US the regular people?;
  • Are they just making a grand stand and opposing everything because it was proposed by the other party?
We need to let each one of the representatives know that they are being watched and that we did NOT give carte blanche to everything that he/she believes in. For example, if you voted for a candidate who is pro-life. But if you find that he is against gun control and you do not agree, you can send a simple letter, e-mail, saying, ‘I voted for you but I am FOR gun control.’ Getting their e-mails is so easy. You’ll probably get a stamped response from their office but YOU ARE making your voice heard.

There are many organization out there that even collects signatures to congress, companies, industries to deliver the voice of us simple citizens. You can just put your name on the list. It takes less than a minute. The downside is you’ll get more e-mails from them but YOU ARE making your voice heard.

There should be NO disparities between what the majority of the public think/poll results and what goes on in the congress!

By Harris & Ewing, via Wikimedia Commons

This is a rant of sorts because I’ve been angry since reading an article about Senator Reid of Nevada allowing a big loophole in tax BECAUSE he was most likely influenced by industry lobbyists which pumps in money to his election campaign. The result: one billion dollar loss in taxes. What can you do with one billion? Can we make schools better? Can we use it for cancer research?

I am just SOOOOO mad!

Each one of us needs to keep an eye on what OUR representatives are doing. In the end, they are also humans. Self-preservation, money, power can lure them to the dark side.

By NASA, via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sibling Bereavement

When someone dies, the parents or the spouse are the ones who seem to attract the most sympathy and support, which is what they deserve. But I hope also that the siblings get their support, too. Even if they seem to not understand or even if they seem like they are not affected. They will understand in their own way and grieve in their own way. And there are organizations that can help by giving information and a place to connect with peers who can uniquely identify with what they are going through.


Below is my story. It does get a bit long but bare with me. I cannot talk about my loss without talking about my brother.

I lost my older brother, my only sibling in my teens. Or, I should say my brother died when he was 22 years old. I correct myself a lot because the former statement seems like it’s about me when my brother was the one affected.

Anyway, he was several years older then me. But …
  • He was my best friend - we lived in few different countries growing up. He was my one constant companion. Despite the age and gender differences, I have tons of memories playing together. Once we even boiled leaves from a backyard tree while my mother took a nap (I remember it tasted horrible!).
  • He was a kind brother
    • He didn’t get annoyed with me tagging along and wanting to do whatever he did (there are a lot of photos in which I sit next to him and am drawing or sewing as he does; he let me tag along to school for summer vacation exercises)
    • He was patient when I went into tamper tantrums (the only time he really got angry at me was when I got so frustrated losing a card game and started hitting and kicking him)
    • He pretty much helped me with all the craft projects that came with a monthly kid’s magazine that I couldn’t do.
    • He always teased me and insisted that he should get twice the amount of snacks since he was bigger. But he never actually asserted his rights. I always split them equally between us. I only gave him one extra if there were odd numbers of things.
  • I was proud of him in many ways 
    • He was tall (close to 6 foot while I was less than 5 foot tall); 
    • He was athletic (played tennis well and skied among other things)
    • He was a class leader
    • He studied hard
  • He was the best teacher in my family (my mother was too impatient; my father, if I asked him a level 5 or 8 problem, he always had to start explaining from level 1 taking forever)
  • He was the emotional pillar of the family. He was my protector. He made part of the environment in which I could be myself freely and safely without any constraints. (My father being too busy and pretty much non-existent in our day-to-day lives. Even my mother relied on him at times)

I might have idolized him after his death but he was indeed a good person. And I couldn’t have had a better brother even if I came up with a list of characters that I wanted in one. He was the prefect brother for me.

He was totally ‘normal’ growing up. But when he turned 18, things started going wrong. At first he complained that he couldn’t see well. He got glasses but that did not completely solve the problem. He ended up getting bounced from one medical speciality to another, till he landed in neurology. There he was diagnosed with a type of dystrophy. He was also told that he will deteriorate and at most have only 3 three years to live.

It was a quick decline from there: he started having trouble walking straight; having trouble climbing stairs; having trouble writing on a straight line; he lost balance (fell once on train tracks); started crawling; got bed-ridden; became unable to construct coherent words or chew well; and the day before he died, he was no longer able to chew his food at all. He did not last three years.

My mother took care of him at home till the very end with advise and help from a visiting nurse and later a bathing company who brought a tub and helped his stiff body into it. I was at a boarding school then but came home frequently on weekends. I remember only once being at my brother’s bedside when my mother had an engagement that she could not cancel. 
I’m pretty sure, I was in denial that he was sick and failing. It probably didn’t help that I was losing touch with my emotions (that process was mentioned in a different blog post), either.

His death didn’t sink in. I thought I should be feeling sad more than I actually felt said. At his funeral I told my brother in my mind that I will not think of his death because it will make me sad. And I promised to him that now I, in my brother’s place, will ‘take care’ of my mother who was in deep grief.

My life went on as if nothing happened. I told none of my friends. I hadn’t even told them about his illness. Since my family home was far away from school, I’ve never invited anyone home. None of my friends knew my brother face-to-face. And I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want to make my friends uncomfortable.

One day, more than a year after my brother’s death, I was at home alone. I was listening to a song and along came the lyrics ‘we will meet again someday, somewhere.’ And it suddenly hit me. I realized that I was never going to see my brother again. Tears gushed out and I was knocking everything from the desk and hurtling anything within reach at the floor and walls.

It was as if, until then, I was acting on a stage with props unknowingly. And when reality hit me, I was standing alone in the middle of rubbles.

I was in despair. I was angry that he had to thus suffer. I was angry at the world, the injustice for letting him die while bad people, ‘less worthy’ people lived on. I was angry at myself for not doing anything for him when he needed the help, despite all he had done for me. I felt survivor’s guilt: I, the lesser one, less smarter, less athletic, less reliable should have gone instead of my brother. I was angry that he was torn away from me and I had to thus suffer. 

But I kept all that emotions to myself. My mother was the one who lost a child, a deeper loss. When she doesn’t express that much grief often how can I? The despair was felt so dark and deep that I didn’t think any of my friends could deal with it if I confessed. In the end, the pain and anger was too great to carry on, I just wanted to end my life, to follow my brother. Clearly life has not much meaning. A good person like my brother can just die one day and nothing happens, nothing changes, the world goes on.

Ultimately, my self-preservation instincts were too strong. I didn’t want my mother to experience another child’s death either.

I was in college by then. I had vague future plans, or more like fuzzy dreams. But those now felt totally meaningless fluff. I wondered what I can do to live until the day I can go to my brother. Nursing, was the answer I came up with.

It probably had to do with the fact that I hardly helped with his care and felt really guilty. I wanted to make amends by helping others. Another big incentive: after the diagnosis my gentle brother became sullen, especially among family members. He was probably angry that he was dealt a bad card. I also think, and it is most likely that the disease eventually eroded his thoughts. From then on, I never saw him smile except just once. 

This was soon after the diagnosis. He was in a hospital for about a month. Either the doctor wanted to do some more tests or was trying to see if they can slow the symptoms, I just don’t know. One day when I was home from the boarding school, my mother took me to visit him in the hospital. As we went up the stairs I caught sight of my brother and he was smiling. It was so shocking that the scene burnt itself onto the back of my eyelids forever. What he was doing at the time: having a conversation with a nurse. And I realized that nurses are always there. Even when there is not much a doctor can do, a nurse can stay with the patient and support a person to the end of life. That nurse was able to make my brother smile. I wanted to be that nurse. I wanted to be able to do that to someone since I couldn’t do it for my brother.

Until then, I’ve never thought of going into the medical field. No one in my family that I knew was. I didn’t think that math and science were my thing. I liked history and reading books. But that was that. I changed my course. I went back to studying high school math and science. My only wish was that I would do good as a nurse and that if/when I see my brother again, he will great me with a smile, a word of acknowledgement at what I’ve done. 

It has been years since then, and I still hope so.


Sorry for my story getting so long. Thank you for letting me write this all out. I’ve never been able to put it all into words like this. But the bottom line is a child can grieve about a sibling in their own way. Their age and understanding, sibling relationship, circumstances of death, etc. will affect how they uniquely grieve. They might need a hand to get over it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Depression and Bing Eating

I’ve lost about 10 lbs in the past two years. Did I go on a diet? No. Did I increase my activity level? No.

As the title probably cued you, I used to binge eat. I don’t remember when I started doing it. I know I definitely was doing it when I started living on my own. I would buy tons of snacks and eat till I’m physically uncomfortable. 

I used to go to the gym because I loved to swim and my employer offered it as part of the benefits. When I’d go, I’d always swim 1 kilometer or just over a thousand yards. I just loved to swim. I went when I could and I think I went at least twice a week. But that did not lead to a weight loss. Because of my regular binge-eating.

In those days, I don’t think I even wondered why I binge eat. I just did. When I felt the urge I just went to buy whatever I wanted to.

Even after I got married, it continued. While my husband was at work, I’d go to grocery stores, pharmacy, or gas station to get snacks.

By Maria Raquel Cochez (own work) via Wikimedia Commons

But when I started therapy for depression, something changed. Without trying to do so, unconsciously, I lost the pounds. I just don’t feel the urge to binge-eat as much. I would confess that their are times that I eat a little more than I should behind my husband’s back. But a lot less than I used to and very infrequently. And now I know that I eat when I am stressed out about something.

I’m not quite sure if it’s simply because I’m less depressed. It could also be that I’m now able to acknowledge my emotions more and deal with it instead of just bottling them up. Or it could be both.

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:

Twisted Almond and Nutella Bread Loaf: Easier to make then I thought it would be and tasty.
Grilled Marinated Pork: Great spice combination.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Thank You and Happy Birthday

Need I say more, no I don't think so.

By Phil Stanziola, NYWT&S staff photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Almond Herb Sauce: If you like anchovies, this is for you.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ability to Read Non-Fiction = Maturity ?

I have trouble finishing non-fiction books. In fact, at this time I have seven non-fiction books that I’ve started reading (and that I know of) but have not finished:

Can A Darwinian Be a Christian? By Micheal Ruse
FDR By Jean Edward Smith
Our Endangered Values By Jimmy Carter
Paper Trail By Ellen Goodman
Awakening to Race By Jack Turner
The Next American Revolution By Grace Lee Boggs
Half the Sky By Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

I start reading with, off course, the intention of reading them. They are interesting to say the least. Some, I’ve even finished about 2/3 of them. Yet I cannot finish them.

I know what one problem is. When I’m tired, I just want to read fiction just for pleasure. Some books, I just have to pay real attention to to understand. It probably doesn’t help that English is my second language (though people won’t realize it if they just talk to me on the phone). 

Or am I making too much of them? Maybe I should just read them when I want to read, no matter how tired I feel. If they are interesting enough, I might be drawn into them.

Do you have similar problems? What do you do then?

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs in Cumin Coriander Spiced Tomato Sauce: It’ll be hard make regular meatballs after this.

Chicken Fried Rice: Simple, yet delicious.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Medications Side Effects and Finding the Right One

Every TV commercial for a medication comes with a drone of possible side effects. Some people will think, ‘why bother taking something that can make you ill?’ and turn to ‘natural’ remedies.

The fact of the matter is, there is no way to prove or disapprove that these side effects are caused by these medications. They test these medications before marketing. One group of people will get the actual medication, while another will get a medication that looks like the real thing but has no active ingredients in it (placebo). Side effects are always reported by people in both groups, most of the time, more in the actual drug group. 

I always thought that there are people who are prone to be swayed by suggestions. That if some people were explained that there are possible this, this, and that side effect, they will end up complaining about them. I am not discounting their experience. I just thought that because these people believe they will get the side effects, that they will attribute every bad feeling that happened to manifest itself during the testing to the medication. So as a prescriber I was really cautious about explaining possible side effects.

But I was more worried about people not taking the medication because of the side effects. So my explanation always ended with the fact there are multiple alternative medications, some in a different chemical group, that can be tried if one did not work. If I decided that a person is better of taking the medication then risking possible consequences (future stroke, heart attack, etc), I’d  am willing to take the time to find the right medication for that person. I just don’t want people to stop taking the medication and not tell me about it. Unfortunately, at this time, we don’t know which medication works the best for each individual with the minimum or no side effect. It is, unfortunately, a trial and an error.

What I didn’t realize was that sometime it can be REALLY difficult to find the right medication. This is about me and my depression/anxiety. I don’t know how many medications I have tried. Paxil, Remeron, Ability, Latuda, Geodon….. All had side effects that affected my normal functioning capacity and were not worth taking them, whatever good effects they also had. I can’t say that I’ve found the perfect combination, still. But after trying several, I am currently taking a hiatus from trying yet another one.

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:
Blueberry Barley Muffins: I had barley flakes I wanted to use. Great texture!

One Pan Sumac Chicken Thighs: It uses oranges but it is a subtle taste in the finish.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Football Hall of Fame and Terrell Owens

As a football fan, I visit the website quite a lot during the season. But usually I don’t play much attention to who was inducted in the Hall of Fame. This year articles regarding the selection caught my eye. Simply because I’m a Brett Farve fan and he is thought to be a definite inductee for this year. But it also said that wide receiver Terrell Owens was among the last players to be considered. I’ve never really followed his play but in the past what I’ve heard friends having negative opinions about him. Sure enough, there are people who question his attitude and behavior. And if teams were hesitant to hire him due to his behavior, that says a lot about the person he is.

So he is not really a player with good sportsmanship. Does that kind of person need to be inducted in the Hall of Fame? He might have had a hard childhood but would that totally excuse him? I’m kind of doubtful.

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:

Easy Homemade Yellow Curry Paste: I couldn't find a jar of yellow curry paste and ended up making it. It's so worth it. I used what I need and froze the rest for later use. 
Thai Yellow Chicken Curry with Potatoes: Made this with the above paste. 

Friday, January 8, 2016


My husband spent New Years at his parents’ house. I needed to stay home to take care of J, our dog.

My husband informed me just now that while he was there, his brother asked him if my husband wants to go with him to buy marijuana for the parents.

O.K. In my in-laws’ state recreational marijuana is legal. But why would you want somebody to start using it ?!

My in-laws are not in pain.
It took them time to quit smoking cigarettes when they were young parents.

I want to grab my brother-in-law by his neck and shake him viciously(although it most likely won’t help getting sense into him).

Studies show that short-term, light use probably does not cause lung problems. But effects of long-term, heavy use is still unknown.

Would you recommended use to someone who has no health/medical problems of any kind? Yes, it might help you relax you but there are other known less harmful ways to do that.

This news is really bothering me for some reason. I had to let it out.

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:

Dan Dan Noodles: Vegetarian version using tofu. 

Wild Blackberry Lemon Quick Bread: With tons of fruits. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Why Do You Have/Own a Dog?

This is a question I want to pose to some of my neighbors. Are some of the dogs just guard dogs? Are they like ornaments of the yard?

I know there are variety of reasons to have a dog. I shouldn’t be judgmental because what life I give my dog may not be for his best interest, or his liking, or the best life he can have. But…

One neighbor has a dog without collar running around freely. She is quiet, hardly barks. I’ve seen the inhabitants of the house come home in a car few times. The dog runs to them but I’ve never seen on those occasions, them petting her or talking to her. Then, they got another dog, a smaller one. This guy has a collar and spends most of his time inside the house. I don’t like seeing dogs being treated differently.

There is a house with two dachshunds in the yard. They are outside even when there’s frost on the ground (here it doesn’t snow). And I’m sure there are kept outside all day because I see them around 6 am and 8 pm. Aren’t those lap dogs to be kept in the house?

A black lab kept out alone in the yard. Wait, aren’t labs known for friendliness and playfulness? Why is it out there at all times? Didn’t the owner get it for companionship?

This is the one of the most puzzling and distressing situation: a neighbor has at least 3, if not 4 medium sized dogs in their back yard. Each is kept in their, maybe 4’x3’ cage. The only time I’ve seen them out in the general back yard area is when the owner is spraying water to the concrete floor of the cages for cleaning. 

By Richard Ansdell - The Gamekeeper

These are just examples of what I see that frustrates me. On the other hand, there are dogs in our neighborhood who seem to be getting good care, too.

Also, leash law seems to mean nothing here. My husband several years ago was bitten by a dog, called animal control, and had to get rabies prophylactic treatment because the dog was not vaccinated. And in the past year, my dog and I have been each bitten by different dogs on different occasions. It’s not the dogs’ fault. It’s the owners’ fault. They just let them run around all day long. And most of them seemed not be be spayed because female dogs get pregnant sooner or later and have puppies that don't look like them. It's a bad situation.

I cook most of the meals but I don’t create recipes. I rely on recipes on the web and books. So to pay tribute to all the food bloggers and people who contribute recipes out there, I’m  posting recipes that I’ve recently tried and liked.
In the past few days I’ve made:

Dan Dan Noodles: Vegetarian version with delicate taste. 

Wild BlackBerry Lemon Quick Bread: My husband likes black berries and this recipe was approved by him.