Cold and wet

Not much to report today except a whole ton of rain. Chaos at home and the road to work was also closed due to flooding. What do you do when you’re late for work and the highway which you usually take is now under water? I took a long diversion through town and listened to all the flooding stories on the radio.

The weekend was cold and wet but pleasant. P and I visited my parents at Betty’s Bay and the house is looking really good with the couches and carpets and all the pictures. My dog curled up in front of the fire and was happy as can be. P and I made a chicken and mushroom risotto (inspired in part by Di’s risotto the other day) which was really good.

I don’t know what’s going on with my reading but I seem to have ditched a few books mid-stream and started two new ones. Enjoying “A Memoir of Love and Madness” by Cape Town author Rahla Xenopoulos, which describes her life with bipolar disorder. I want to write something about bipolar as a trendy diagnosis (the diagnosis du jour) and also reflect on how well her memoir works (or doesn’t work). I’m halfway through and am liking it so far. She’s a drama queen is Rahla but it makes for an entertaining read.

Much more disturbing is “Columbine” by Dave Cullen. Cullen was one of the journalists who covered the school shootings at Columbine High in 1999 for the New York Times. After nine years of extremely thorough research, he has produced what I guess would be called a riveting, disturbing but also quite necessary book on the tragedy. I’m interested to know what led two seemingly ordinary teenage boys (Eric and Dylan) to want to go and kill their schoolmates. The ordinariness of their lives is part of what makes this so disturbing. I’m sure most people will have seen (or heard of) Michael Moore’s documentary “Bowling for Columbine” which caused quite a stir at the time, partly because of the seemingly casual attitude towards guns and gun control that pervades much of US culture.

This book covers all the main players in the tragedy and also provides an excellent psychological background to the two killers. One thing that worries me at this stage is how an antidepressant such as Zoloft can perhaps fuel psychopathology (in Eric’s case). And then there are the parents who seem to do nothing when their son is caught and sentenced for making a pipe bomb. In retrospect that was a big warning light for the parents (and school authorities) to take note of but I’ll be interested to see what (if anything) they did about it.


11 Responses to Cold and wet

  1. I kept meaning to mention, I quoted you in my post here:

    and it was also published here:

    As for what to do when running late and flooded roads are encountered? I would sigh a relief. Blame it on the blocked roads.

  2. natalian says:

    We only had a soft smattering of rain last night and I was ready to run outside and thank Mother Nature for finally seeing the drought that my poor garden has had to endure due to neglect! Risotto from scratch? You and P have my “Nigella Wannabe” respect!

  3. doctordi says:

    Pete, I am WELL CHUFFED to have partially inspired your and P’s risotto, and delighted it was a success!

    I am less thrilled with your reading matter. I don’t think I could read Columbine. After In Cold Blood, I realised I am very deeply troubled by these things and find carrying the stories around for a long time afterwards extremely deflating. I guess it’s a bit gutless of me, to want to avoid such things, but there it is. No wonder I flee into fiction.

  4. Pete says:

    phd in yogurtry – Why thank you for the mention. (Great blog by the way). I was also quite relieved to have an excuse for being late, but a bit worried about the floods. That damn anxiety again.

    natalian – The risotto was great but the stirring was a killer. Would very gladly pass the rain on to you if I could. Newlands has to be one of the wettest places in the country.

    doctordi – I know. I haven’t been able to pick it up again after my initial burst of about 60 pages. Not sure I want psycho Eric staying on in my brain for weeks on end.

  5. chicken/mushroom risotto? It sounds HEAVENLY. I think you need a recipe section on your blog!

  6. Pete says:

    Courtney – Maybe you’re right! Will ask P for the recipe.

  7. bloglily says:

    I second courtney’s request. It’s time for risotto!

  8. Pete says:

    Lily – Ok, just give me a few days to do my homework!

  9. Ally says:

    Hi from the U.S., I am new to your blog and enjoying it. I was interested when you said bipolar is trendy and the diagnosis du jour. I have heard that statement before. Can you write more about that? I have the diagnosis Bipolar II and it still floors me. Was diagnosed after nasty, never before experienced mixed state after 1 month of SSRI. Am now taking 4 medications and currently doing very well but still!?! (and yes, it could just be denial). Thanks!!

  10. Pete says:

    Ally – Hi and welcome! My sense (and I haven’t researched this) is that a lot of people who were previously diagnosed with depression are now being diagnosed as suffering from bipolar after just such an experience you describe. I’m very keen to find out more about bipolar (since I also experience mood swings and it’s difficult to judge what’s normal and what’s more serious). I think I would be scared to go onto an SSRI because it might bring on an elevated state (I also have an uncle with bipolar). One book I definitely want to read on the subject is Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind. (She’s a professor of psychiatry in the US who also suffers from Bipolar 1 herself).

    But the comment about the trendy diagnosis also links to the associations that we have around “mental illness”. Having tidal moods that come and go (and are a bit like a rollercoaster) seems a lot more interesting than suffering from depression which just makes you low a lot of the time. But I’ll try and post on this more in future.

  11. Ally says:

    Hi Pete, thanks for your reply! Dr. Jamison’s book is amazing, I highly recommend it. A website I find very helpful is by Dr. James Phelps, who has written a great book about “soft” bipolar, e.g. Bipolar II (which is my diagnosis). It can be hard to unravel because BPII folks tend to spend up to 90% of the time depressed.

    On the website he includes the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale (BSDS) which is a great tool for finding subtle signs of bipolar. I wish my psychiatrist had left me alone for 5 minutes with the questionnaire before prescribing an SSRI!



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