Thursday, October 23, 2014

Holiday Blues aka Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional or a licensed mental health therapist!
While I have provided some of the best ways to treat the “Holiday Blues / SAD naturally, it must be understood that depression is a serious condition – if in doubt always seek professional medical advice.

Do the holidays get you down?  May gay men report feeling sad during this time of year, as the all-too-familiar pain of strained family relations and lack of an intimate relationship can come bubbling to the surface.  And with the shortened daylight, gloomy sky, and cold weather outside beckoning us to stay indoors, we can often become hermit-like, inviting feelings of loneliness and, ultimately, depression.  Even those of us who typically enjoy our alone time can feel that it’s just too much to handle at times, especially when we log onto Facebook and see others having great times at parties, gatherings, and other holiday celebrations.

What are the Symptoms?
There are several symptoms associated with SAD but here are the most common ones:

o Fatigue
o Unrealistic expectations
o Feeling bombarded by over-commercialization
o Strained relationship issues that surface when families get together
o Reminders of past losses of significant loved ones
o Sadness over the contrast between "now" and "then"
o Adapting to changes in family configurations and logistics for celebrating together caused by such new situations as divorce, marriage, blended families, adolescents who no longer celebrate the holidays as "children," and grown children establishing their own independent holiday traditions
o Financial constraints and demands
o The inability to be with friends and family
o Residue stress from unfortunate past experiences during previous holiday seasons
o Tension caused by the additional demands of shopping in holiday crowds, heavier-than-usual traffic, entertaining, holiday baking, long-distance travel, family reunions and/or houseguests

How to combat these feelings

Keep your expectations for the holiday season manageable:

Be realistic about what you can and cannot do-as well as what you want to do and don't want to do. Although the holidays often mean trying to fit a lot of activities into a short period of time, pace yourself and, to the degree it's possible, try not to place your entire focus on just one day (e.g., Thanksgiving Day, Christmas morning, New Year's Eve), instead, remember it's an entire season of holiday sentiment and that activities can be spread out (time-wise) to help increase enjoyment and lessen stress. Set realistic goals for yourself; make a list and prioritize

Limit predictable sources of stress: If you feel the annual trappings of shopping, decorating, cooking and attending social events risk becoming overwhelming and stressful, use discretion and limit the activities you commit to.

Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely: During the holiday season, there's room for feelings such as sadness and/or loneliness to be present along with other more joyful emotions. You may be feeling out of sorts and periodically out of sync with the season's "jollier" aspects. When you feel down, avoid critical self-perceptions, such as thinking of yourself as Scrooge and, instead, try to articulate the understanding you need from those around you. You might also consider seeking the help of a therapist to help you sort out your feelings and deal with the troubling issues.

Don't fall prey to commercial hype: Advertisers would like to have you believe that "if you really loved someone " you'd give him or her that expensive new gadget or piece of jewelry.  Recognize the ads and commercials as hype that manufacturers and stores have to do to benefit optimally from the season. You can show love and caring in lots of thoughtful ways which don't cost a lot and that make the holidays all the more meaningful and personal.

Get together with friends in any way possible:  As much as possible, share the holidays with friends and family members by phone, e-mail, and mail, as well as in person. The holiday season can also be a good time to contact someone you have not heard from for awhile.   Spend time with special friends and family members with whom you can reminisce and share stories and warm memories about your loved one.

Don't abandon healthful habits: Don't feel pressured to eat more than you're accustomed to just because it's the holiday season. And, since many of the season's parties and social gatherings include alcohol, be aware that excessive drinking will only contribute to or increase feelings of overwhelm or depression. Alcohol is NOT an antidepressant and, in fact, often worsens mood.

Make the time to get physical exercise: Exercising, for example, aerobics, walking, skiing, hiking, yoga, or swimming, can help burn away a lot of stress as well as the extra calories of holiday meals.

Remember that life brings changes: As families change and grow, traditions often need to adapt to the new configurations. While you can hold onto certain family rituals, for instance, a certain holiday activity or preparing a long-cherished family recipe, some traditions, such as everyone gathering at your house, may not be possible this year. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don't set yourself up for disappointment by comparing this year's holiday season with the nostalgia of past holidays.

Engage in volunteer activity: Helping others is a pretty foolproof method of making the holidays feel more meaningful. There are many volunteer organizations that need extra help during this time of year.

Attend holiday community events: Most communities offer special events during the holidays, such as theatrical and orchestral performances, that can be enjoyable to look forward to and to attend.

Enjoy activities that are free: Financial strain can be the cause of considerable added stress during the holidays; however, there are many ways of enjoying the season that are free

Nightmare on Normal Street
Hillcrest’s one and only Halloween street party is taking place on October 25, 2014. Join us if you dare for a scare! This spooky celebration will take place on Normal Street between University Ave. and Harvey Milk Street. The events of the evening will include ‘fang-tastic’ live entertainment and spine chilling dĂ©cor! New this year, Nightmare on Normal Street will feature an all ages fright zone and soda bar.
The evening’s chills and thrills include:
• Rich’s Night Club, Grand Stage with headliner Dj Nikno
• A costume competition
• Multiple fright zones brought to you by different local Hillcrest businesses
• Food trucks
• An over 21 area on the street and an all ages area

Tickets are on sale now and just $10 for general admission. Eat, drink and be scary with all you can drink “witch’s brew” and complimentary food with purchase of a $50 VIP ticket (must be over 21 to purchase). Proceeds for the evening will support the San Diego LGBT Community Center and the Hillcrest Business Improvement Association. Get your tickets at:
Or on Facebook search for Nightmare on Normal Street

Scott Carlson Thanksgiving Dinner
Thursday, November 27at 11:30am - 3:00pm
The San Diego LGBT Community Center
3909 Centre St, San Diego, California 92103

The Thanksgiving Community Dinner was started by HIV/AIDS activist Scott Carlson back in the early ‘80s to provide a communal gathering for people living with HIV/AIDS during Thanksgiving to share a meal and spend time with people who cared.  When Carlson passed away, the community banded together and continued this tradition.  In 2004, the Imperial Court, along with the First Unitarian Universalist Church, took over the lead role of securing the continuation of this wonderful tradition and named the event as the Scott Carlson Thanksgiving Community Dinner in his Carlson’s honor.

Balboa Park December Nights: Dec. 5 & 6 2014

Balboa Park December Nights, the nation’s premier holiday festival, will take place for the 36th consecutive year on Friday, Dec. 5, 3-11pm, and Saturday, Dec. 6, noon-11pm. As always, the event brings families and friends together to spread holiday joy, learn more about the cultural value of Balboa Park and kick-off the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9 pm both evenings and more than 350,000 visitors are expected to experience the joy of San Diego’s largest free community festival. Those who attend will participate in a truly multicultural experience, enjoying food, music and entertainment from around the world.

Home For the Holidays   December 6th  5-8 PM

'Home for the Holidays' brings our community together to dance, eat and celebrate our diverse holiday traditions with 'family' away from home. More than 20 community organizations will come together to put on a holiday celebration for the entire San Diego LGBT community and our allies. All are welcome. The event is free, but guests are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to support the Imperial Court de San Diego's annual toy drive. For more information, contact Carolina Ramos at or 619.692.2077 x116.

“Alternative but sometimes useful therapies”

The #1 recommended therapy to combat the holiday blues and SAD is light therapy.
That means different things to people in different parts of our country.
Here in San Diego we are fortunate to have some sunny fall and even winter days. 


Light plays an important role in our health and the amount of time exposed to it affects our performance. As the sun begins to rise in the morning the light that makes its way through our eyelids is recognized by the pineal in our brain. This gland secretes a chemical called serotonin and reduces the production of a chemical called melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that our body produces to help us sleep, while serotonin regulates our mood and energy. Serotonin and melatonin work together in managing important aspects of our physiology. Immunity, pain, digestion, sleep/wake cycle, body temperature, blood pressure, blood clotting, and daily body rhythms are all affected by serotonin and melatonin. The shortage of light in the winter is what affects our hormonal balance causing the wintertime blues. That is why it is important to expose ourselves to a good amount of bright light.


St John's Wort (Hypericum) Tincture
St John's wort is now commonly known as the alternative anti-depressant and is highly effective in combating some of the symptoms associated with SAD. The one you are most likely to come across is A.Vogel's Hypericum Tincture, of which it is recommended you take 20 drops twice a day with water. 

St John's wort contains hypericin, which "interferes with monoamine oxidase (MAO), which contributes to depression. Pharmaceutical products also act as MAO inhibitors, but St John's wort is a slow treatment, and, crucially, has few side effects."
It is also used to treat nervous depression and can help with sleep and your body's absorption of nutrients, helping to restore vitality and wellbeing. While it provides a generally safe alternative to drugs such as Prozac, side-effects may a affect a very small proportion of people including diarrhea and skin sensitivity to the sun.

Try SAM-e (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine). This naturally occurring bodily compound helps produce and regulate hormones, including the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine; low levels of these are associated with depression. Dr. Howard recommends taking 400 to 800 milligrams daily. Brands that passed independent tests for potency, conducted by, include GNC, Natrol, and NutraLife. St. John's wort, which has been touted as a SAD remedy, doesn't seem to be effective for relieving seasonal affective disorder, Dr. Howard notes.
Take a fish oil supplement with at least 600 milligrams of combined EPA/DHA daily.
Take 500 milligrams of vitamin C three to four times a day with plenty of water, and a B-complex vitamin.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Planes, Trains, Automobiles........and a Funeral.

I haven’t traveled by plane for quite a long time; I think this may be my first trip somewhere since 2003.  I was fortunate enough to have someone make all the arrangements for my trip to Milwaukee to attend my friend Dave's Funeral.   All I had to do was get on the plane.   Just before I got to San Diego Airport I get a call from my friend Paul advising me of some issues at the airport in Chicago.  Well, I'm not a seasoned traveller, so I checked my bag curbside and asked the man about the issues in Chicago.  He said we were not aware of any issues yet; everything should be "OK” I thought well, ill go to the ticket counter inside and ask them.
Ummmmmmmm yeah, that line was a 1/4 mile long.  So I proceeded to the gate,  Now I hate to generalize or enforce stereotypes, but the GAYEST crewmember was at the gate, so I asked him about the situation.  He said, "oh dear, everything should be fine by the time you arrive in Detroit."
Flaming and dumb are now my least favorite personality traits.

I get on a plane, and I fall asleep for a couple of hours only to wake up to an email from Delta letting me know my flight from Detroit to Chicago had been cancelled..  FUUUUUUUUUCKK
I check online, and there are no flights available from Detroit to Milwaukee.

But, of course, by that time my friend Paul had handled the situation....  Much better than I would have, he had already booked me a ticket on Amtrak. Business class of course.    At one point, I was seriously considering turning around and going right back home.  YES, I had a panic attack.  But this is for a funeral; this isn't about me, or how cute I would have looked in the new outfit I bought or if I was gonna look cute for the men of Milwaulkee when we hit the town.  It's about Dave and his family and Paul and us being together. Yes, of course, I almost lost my shit, but good friends came together and got me grounded.  After calling my friend Steve and also talking to Paul, I realized that leaving would have been a very selfish thing to do.  Paul has put so much work into organizing a beautiful funeral for Dave.  I had spoken with Dave's father yesterday, and we had a nice talk about our feelings about the weekend to come.  

My luggage was...somewhere that they can't get to at the moment.  There were nearly 2000 flights cancelled today in Chicago, lots of luggage to deal with going to places all over the world.  I only had the clothes on my back; the train wouldn't get into Chicago until  after 11PM, and then we had to drive to Milwaukee, and the funeral is at 10AM the next morning.  So, of course, my lovely friend Paul went clothes  shopping for me.  WOW, talk about feeling loved.  Then I had another disastrous thought hit me.  My medication is in my suitcase.  Well, luckily for me I have another great friend.  Franko from Walgreen’s Community Pharmacy that has arranged for me to get a small supply of my medication at a 24-hour Walgreen’s pharmacy in Milwaukee very close to my hotel.

As soon as they do get my luggage they will bring it to my hotel, but they also asked for my home address because who the hell knows how long all this will take.

The cab ride from Detroit Airport to the train station was fairly long, most expensive cab ride I have ever had.  I tried Lyft and Uber, but no luck.  I arrived at the train station a couple of hours early and the man at the counter told me about a nice little hole in the wall bar with a “good kitchen” named Z’s Kitchen. It was tiny, and there were mostly regulars but the food was very good and lord knows I needed a cocktail or two.  After a little chat with some locals, I headed back to the train station.  The business class car in this neck of the woods is completely different than what we have in California.  I had to go up and get my own shit from the cafĂ© car!!  Can you imagine? 

I was just starting to get my groove on writing this story, so I wanted a glass of wine… NOPE!! No more wine.  OK, by now I’ve about had it.  SO it was on!!  I’ll have a double Jack & Coke, please.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and I realized as we were approaching Kalamazoo that Cheri could have picked me up from the airpor,t and we would have been able to spend some time together before jumping the train in Kalamazoo.

My first time in Detroit

Nice Buildings across from Detroit train station
Oh well, I was almost to Chicago, But then they announced a slight delay due to track signals being down, so we were traveling about 15-20 miles per hour for awhile, so that meant it was going to be closer to midnight or a little after until I reached Chicago. Paul was there waiting for me when I arrived; we went directly to Milwaukee, hit the drug store, then I was all settled in the hotel around 1AM.  It took me a little while to decompress from all of that;  I had been awake almost 24 hours, except for that brief nap on the plane.  Once again Paul saved the day with stocking the mini fridge with wine and some snacks.  Asleep by 2:15, then awake at 7AM to try on the clothes that were laid out so beautifully for me.

Funeral at 10AM set up at 9AM so no mimosa brunch for me..  Coffee and a bagel was plenty.

I had said good-bye to Dave in so many ways so many times, but this was it, our final goodbye until we meet again somewhere after I am gone from this earth.  Dave’s dad wanted the full ceremony and Paul went above and beyond Dan’s expectations.  We had a violinist and a cellist.  The minister was visibly emotional, and to me that told me she really cared about what she was doing, this wasn’t just another appointment in her book of funerals and wedding for the weekend.

We each said a few words about Dave, his father commenting on how both of his sons, his only children had both gone before him, and that wasn’t how it was supposed to be.  The Urn containing Dave’s cremains were placed into the ground, and Dan placed the first amount of dirt into the ground.  I being the dramatic queen that I am sobbed as I scattered rose petals into the ground on top of Dave.  In the back of my mind I heard Dave saying FAG!!   That made me feel better; it made me feel close to him.

We left the cemetery for a beautiful luncheon that Paul had pre arranged at the Milwaukee Museum of Art.  There we beautiful books placed at the table for us.  One was all about the museum, the other a book about Andy Warhol’s art in the last ten years of his life.  Paul thought of everything.  After lunch, a glass of champagne and a glass of wine, I was ready for a nap…. A 5-hour nap.  

Walking up to the Museum

The ceiling above us at the museum 

View walking next to the Museum on Lake Michigan

Paul scooped me up and took me to dinner at a Tapas restaurant that was AMAZING!  He knows the Chef, and she went out of her way to make sure we enjoyed the experience.  If you are ever in Milwaukee make sure you visit Ginger its in the Fifth Ward on 2nd street.  There were quite a few newer establishments that were filled with laughter and music.   This is also the street that a bar named 219 was.  Now vacant it used to be a very jumping gay bar, it also happened to be where Jeffrey Dahmer used to meet some of the young men he preyed upon.  I have a fascination with serial killers, and seeing this place was just beyond any expectations I had for this trip.  We all have quirky things we like.  I have seen every film and documentary about Dahmer, and when I posted the photo to Facebook I got some very mixed comments, some of which were very strongly against this idea that I thought seeing this place was “cool”.   I get it serial killers are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Club 219

We visited a few gay bars that night; very neighborhood type bars that I liked very much, but at that time they weren’t very busy, so we headed to a drag show at a club names La Cage.   Now I must admit I am a drag snob, I’ve seen shows all over the country I’ve seen the best of the best and the worst of the worst.  This was somewhere right in between.   The first queen came out in a FLAWLESS black foxtail full-length coat.   I could hear the first few notes of one of my all time top 5 favorite songs.  The Glamorous Life By Sheila E.  awwwwwwww fuck, bitch didn’t know the words.  The reveal hidden under the coat of her very tiny costume and rather large titties were lost on me.   Don’t come to me not knowing the words to the song.

Then 2 songs later a girl that looked like she got her gown at a bridal shop did the very same song, just by a different singer???  Ummmmmm OK?   Another queen did a mash up of that Anaconda Nicki Minaj song.  She was wearing green sequin short shorts, and when she turned around she had ZERO BOOTAY.  Pad that ass bitch; you’re putting on a show here!  Then that bridal dress girl came out again in a dress she looked like she picked up at Forever 21 and stoned it with plastic beads from Michael’s Craft Store.  Oh and then there was another girl doing that Anaconda song…  REHEARSAL ANYONE?   Shit..  the place was very nice, great stage, good looking men, great bar.  So not all was lost..  I just saved a few bucks by not feeling impressed by some queen coming out in a big afro performing to Pride, A Deeper Love from 1991….  YAWN!!!!
So after not meeting Mr right now, it was time to head back to the hotel.

A decent nights sleep, woke up had some hotel room coffee, then took a walk to Starbucks and by Lake Michigan, which I could see from my hotel room.    I wish I had more time to spend in Milwaukee and maybe even some time in Chicago, but the fact that it took me about 7.5 hours more traveling time, kind of set our schedule off for the majority of the weekend.  

But I was there for a purpose, and that was to say a final good-bye to David Zabludowski.  Spend time with his family and my new friend Paul, who was friends with Dave since high school.  It was a fast trip, but I felt like a VIP thanks to Paul.  I enjoy Dave’s father Dan and his stepmother Joyce.  I have no grandparents left to call and send cards to, so I’ve kind of adopted them as mine.

So all in all the trip was fast and furious.  But we did it!  Mission Accomplished. 

Good bye my dear friend Dave!   I miss you greatly!