Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Poor-Man's Cabin

This type of construction allows you to add on flexibly as your money allows.  My poor-man's-cabin is made of three sheds with a deck walkway between the three.  The entire thing is covered with an extra roof which is an added luxury for a couple of reasons.

First the cabin itself has pros and cons.
Pro: flexible building style.  You can add rooms as money and needs demand.  You don't have to modify the existing structures or foundation, simply add another shed or small building to your collection.  Each shed can be outfitted as high or low end as you desire.  Each building can be built with materials of your choosing or you can buy old used sheds and fix them up.  Your imagination and budget are all you need to deal with.
Cons: You must leave one shed/structure to get to the next.  If it's cold or hot or raining or snowing, you have to leave the comfort of one to get into another.
Pros: You only need to cool or heat the building you are in.  Small window units or space heaters are all you need to cool or heat one area.
Cons:  If you use sheds, the structures are less dependable.  The materials used to make these are not a high quality.  The fact that they are light is handy if you need to re-level, but not good if you are in a high wind area.
Pros:  Because each building is smaller than an entire house, you can level, move, add, remove, plumb, etc, etc individually.  If one is badly damaged, you can sell or give just that part away and replace it and you still have the remaining buildings in the meantime.

If you add an additional roof to your design, you gain shade and protection from rain and other elements.  In Texas, where we battle a very long summer or intense sun and heat, this has been a major lifesaver.

Update 2/27/2016: I have listed the Poor Man's Cabin on AirBnB and visitors are loving it!  Check it out HERE!  

Sunday, May 04, 2014


Depression presents in a variety of ways.  This is the story of MY version.

We are all touched by suicide.  Everyone cries out "Why didn't they just talk to me or ask for help?"  Doctors post lists of "warning signs."  People look around at their friends and they are sure all of their friends are either fine or would reach out, so everything goes back to normal.  Until the next one takes his own life.

Warning signs are bullshit.  Stop beating yourself up over not seeing the signs.  Stop expecting to see signs at all.  If someone takes their own life, he or she is beyond reaching out or giving signs.  They are buried in hopelessness and blinded by the cruel voices in their own mind that say there is just no other way.  

WHY don't people ask for help?  Because there is no help to be had!  Imagine waking up feeling as bad as you can ever imagine feeling.  Imagine you ask yourself why you feel this way and your answer is you have absolutely no idea.  There is no specific problem, you're not ill with the flu.  There is no issue.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing for which you could fix or ask for help, you simply feel physically, mentally and emotionally gone.  THIS is depression.  

You feel lonely?  You can identify that and look for solutions.  You are grieving?  You can talk to people about this and manage it.  Everything you try in your business keeps leaving you short at the end of the month?  You can identify that and ask for help or reevaluate the way you live.  School or children or work has you stressed out to the point of hurting your health?  You can identify that and begin looking for solutions.  These are NOT depression!  They can certainly tip the scales that lead to depression, but these issues are themselves solvable.

I have been living with depression off and on for as long as I can remember.  During college, I began sorting through the idea of what is solvable and what it truly dangerous depression.  Each morning, even now, I assess how I feel.  Are my feelings identifiable?  Am I nervous or afraid?  Do I have a big event coming up?  Did someone make me feel uncomfortable?  I address it.  I identify it.  I work though the thing or try to solve the problem.  If it's unidentifiable, I give myself a safe space and cling to the fact that depression is FALSE.  Depression is a real thing, but the hopelessness is not correct.  If you know this and you can cling to it, you will live.  If the depression lasts too long and you lose site of the truth, you could die.  

I have a handful of tools I use to work through identifiable stresses.  1. The hate journal.  I write as fast and as emotionally as I want to.  I do not write sentences.  I write words, phrases, sometimes repetitively, but usually not.  This is for something big.  Something that has upset me and lasts for months or even years.  Eventually, I notice it's harder to come up with phrases.  I'm no longer angry.  And I burn the journal as a letting go of those thoughts.

2. Screaming.  If I don't have the freedom to just scream, I scream into a pillow.  Not wimpy hollers, full on screams from the core of the belly.  In the car works great.  I scream at the person or thing that upset me.  Usually, the first wave leaves my voice and throat feeling raw.  Sometimes, I cry, sometimes I just scream.  

3. To-do Lists and schedules.  If I'm overwhelmed or feeling like I'm not doing the things I need to do, I write a to-do list in the evening for the next day.  I have a master list of things I would like to see done in the next month or two and I pull small steps from that list to be my day's work.  

If it is UNidentifiable, I call this depression which I consider an illness.  These days, my depression lasts for short bursts, a few days at most.  I consider this a success and attribute my success to my daily assessments and my willingness to do the work with the tools above to keep the identifiable things under control.  If my depressed state lasts for more than a week, I consider that a true problem.  Short bursts, I can handle these days.  I have tools for these times too.  1. Stay in bed.  Don't move.  Look around.  Observe sounds and colors and objects.  2. I replace the words "I want to die" with "I want to curl up in a hole." I force myself to realize that the first is not actual truth, the second totally is and that's ok.  As suicidal ideas come into my head, I examine them and dissect them.  I search for truth.  I focus on feelings - the physical feeling of knives cutting flesh, and the feelings of others to find a dead body here.  I FORCE myself to see REALITY.  3. Food is very tricky for me.  I lose the ability to salivate and therefor things like sandwiches are impossible to eat.  Cheese is a great food, yogurt, protein shakes, and fruit also.  I almost always have those available.  Eat.  Eat slowly and deliberately.  4.  If I can go outside, I go outside and sit on the porch observing the trees and birds and notice the air and warmth of the sun.  If I can walk, that's even better, but honestly, not likely.  

When depression would last for long periods, I would walk through life making it look like I was fine.  One of my best covers was/is laughter.  I would usually not go to social events but if I did, my drinking and partying was at full speed.  Because I don't go to social events that often anyway, no one should or would notice my absence nor a change in the way I attended.  At home in the quiet after a party, I was neither better nor worse.  Long lasting depression is dangerous because you can only cling to the above tools for so long.  After a while, living life while feeling like a bulldozer is running you over daily only reinforces the fact that it is hopeless.  And by this time, there is no asking for help because it has become the fabric of your life.  Life is simply hopeless.  This is when the perfectly functional happy looking person takes his own life.

It's not always the recluse or the bullied kid or the banker who just lost every dime.  Do step up and help these people.  But also remember that behind that perfectly normal smile, you have no idea what is swirling in another person's head.  Behind the eyes of the moron who just cut you off in traffic might be someone who is blinded by hopelessness.  Be kind as often as you can be.  You never know what thing will break the spell.  

I have attempted suicide multiple times.  The first time was in the seventh grade.  I lived through days of severe pain silently wishing that the pain would lead to death.  I DID NOT WANT HELP because I did not see a problem to solve, only hopelessness.  When the pain subsided and I was still alive, the depression didn't go away.  I was probably clinically depressed from then until some time after my last attempt in college which should have killed me.  The only reason I lived is because the combination I took made me vomit last week's meals.  I was intensely narcoleptic for a week, but I lived and I was very upset that I lived.

Suicide or attempts at suicide are not a "cry for help."  Depression sees no hope and therefor no help.  I never wanted help.  I wanted out.  It took me realizing that depression's hopeless message is incorrect - the TRUTH is that life is FULL of hope and beauty!  It took breaking the spell.  My first crack at breaking the spell came when I met and fell in love with Sydney.  He didn't cure me, but he gave me a sliver of real joy and I began clinging to those slivers and worked my way through the falseness of hopelessness.  When the vision of running my car into a tree came up, I would focus on him - how would that make him feel?  Living for another person is not a long term solution, but it bought me enough time to start doing the real work of dissecting this disease.  The irony is that depression also contributed to the end of my marriage with him.  It is my firm belief that two people who struggle with depression can not be together unless both are on board to work toward living and working through anything that can lead to their depression in their OWN life as well as lending a little assistance to the other.  He was not.  Neither were other boyfriends.  I work every day to ensure I will stay healthy.  Some days I could use a little help from my significant other.  A depressed person does not have the strength to hold up two people.  I can not comfort someone who has very special depression who does nothing to help himself.  I can not give happy happy to someone who sees me 24/7 in order to not make his depression worse.  And I refuse to have a dual depression pity party!  I survive because I work daily at surviving.  I would gladly have daily check ins with others, daily reminders of hope and beauty, daily venting and daily list writing.  I will not participate in pity parties....  those who know me know the truth of this and now maybe you understand why.  

Family members and long time friends may wonder why it was Sydney and not THEIR love that broke the spell.  I have no answer for that except that depression seems to be very spell-like.  There seems to be these dart-like triggers in and out of it.  A couple of theories: 1. A fresh new ray of light shakes up your brain's emotional centers.  2. When depression becomes the fabric of your life, everything that has always been there (family and long term friends) are part of that fabric.  There's no shake-up.  There's just day to day.  3. Looking back, I can see that amongst the many things that weighed me down into a depressed state was sexist oppression for which I had no vocabulary to discuss as a young person.  4. I get the impression that the seeds of depression are set at a young age when children really have no way of identifying stress, it's just life....  and if it's a sort of disease we might be born with or wired for, all the more reason to see these feelings as just life.

This is not an unusual version of depression.  It is not the only version of depression.  I do not believe that my methods will solve every person's depression.  I do not judge myself more or less depressed than the next depressed person.  I do hope this post helps someone.