Depression and Apathy

Almost two months ago I slid into the worst period of depression I had experienced in years. I decided to blog about how I was feeling during this period in my life to perhaps help other Christians understand that mental illness can impact the lives of Jesus followers just like anyone one else in our society. I also hoped that people who were caregivers might read my posts and gain an understanding about what it is like to be depressed. Even though my blog is not widely read, I hoped that adding my voice to this issue might help demolish stigmas that some people still attach to mental illnesses such as depression. 

Perhaps there is nothing more frustrating about being depressed than the fog of apathy that seems to descend upon me. I liken it to a fog because nothing seems to be clear to me. Ordinary and simple decisions seem complicated and complex. It can be a time of heightened paranoia and fear, and God can seem very far away. 

In my case, this fog can last hours, days, or even weeks. Sadly, for me, there is no “happy pill” that I can take to make it all better. I have tried numerous antidepressants, but the side effects to them are worse than the disease. So, I am left with seeking support from friends, family, and health care professionals. My church, like so many these days, is not equipped to deal with people who are depressed. It is strange because there are so many people who battle depression in all age groups. I am thankful for the friends who have offered to connect with me during these times. These tend to be busy people, but they have been kind enough to reach out, usually by text or email, but sometimes in person as well. 

The fact that I am writing this message is an indication that the fog has begun to lift. I think this is the fourth or fifth attempt to write about the fog and every time I have started, only to put it off for another day, never to be finished. 

Unpacking Legalism

Target Audience: Religious Christians, Conservative Evangelical Christians, Christians

NOTE: I have used certain points in this blog post that appeared in the sermon notes for Frosh Part 4:  Bewitched, from The Meeting House, October 1, 2017. As this document is “released into the common” I will not attribute the specific parts that I quote or use in this blog post.

LegalismIn one of my first political science classes at York University in Toronto, the professor entered the room and asked, “What is the definition of democracy?”. After taking  definitions from a few students, he told us that there are probably as many definitions of democracy as there were students in the room. The same might be said about legalism. 

Among the study questions in this past week’s sermon notes was this one, “Are there forms of this bewitching (from the Greek word ‘ebaskanen’ meaning wicked magical spell, witchcraft, evil eye, a powerful curse) in the church today we should be wary of?” Last Sunday, the message was from Galatians 3:1-18. It occurred to me that before we could answer that question, we had to unpack the concept of legalism. A simple definition might be helpful, but we need to understand it from a conceptual perspective to see how it impacts the life of a church or a follower of Jesus. 

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn one thing from you. Did you receive the Spirit be the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:1,2 NIV).

One of the more influential films I watched while in university was Lord of the Flies. It is about a group of children who are stranded and isolated. At first, they are a democratic group, but slowly they move toward a more authoritarian style of social organization. It is relevant here because most Christians favor a democratic style of organization for churches, but at the same time, they also crave rules, regulations, laws, and moral codes to limit choices and thinking. I function best in an environment with high structure and boundaries. An environment that is entirely spontaneous could trigger an anxiety attack in me, quite literally. I draw an enormous amount of security from structure. Maybe I rely upon structure and routine a bit too much, but most of us like the idea of routine, having a schedule, and the idea of rules, laws, and boundaries. For the most part, they keep us safe.

When does structure become legalistic? I believe that otherwise good structure and boundaries become legalistic when they oppress or suppress appropriate freedom of expression. Boundaries and structures, along with rules and laws, are useful for maintaining order and achieving commonly agreed upon objectives. In a church service, for instance, there needs to be an order of service to facilitate coherence in music and teaching. If anyone and everyone was permitted to “do their own thing” whenever they felt like it, there would be very little edification or education achieved. It would descend from order to anarchy to chaos. Structure allows leaders to achieve their goals of teaching and edification of the church. 

The Jews in the Old Testament definitely had structure. In fact they were awash in structure. There are 613 written laws in the Old Testament. Over a number of centuries the Jewish leadership added many rules, customs, traditions, and supplementary laws to the original 613. There were three “markers” that divided the Jewish people from every other culture and race. They were: circumcision, sabbath, and diet. These three things separated the Jews from all other races. In and of themselves, they were merely cultural choices. They became legalistic when they not only separated people God created, but were used to exclude people who did not conform to those three markers.

Let’s expand the concepts of circumcision, sabbath, and diet to unpack the concepts of legalism in our society. 

For the sake of this article, let’s make circumcision a paradigm to represent our physical bodies that can include personal appearance, grooming, clothing styles, ethnicity, skin color, weight, and race. Because I am not using circumcision in a literal, physical sense here, I will include women in this paradigm as well in each of the above mentioned categories. Depending upon your personal opinion about physical circumcision, it may or may not be something you consider to be healthy or necessary. When we use the conceptual markers I listed above to exclude or define people, we have become legalistic. For most Christians these days, things like race or color are barriers that have long been shattered in many evangelical churches. What about personal appearance or clothing styles, though? If someone wanted to teach in a Sunday morning service in blue jeans and a t-shirt, would that be okay where you worship? The markers or categories listed above are only a partial list of things that tend to separate people with respect to our bodies. In some cases people who are overweight might not be considered appropriate leadership models as it reflects a lack of personal discipline. Legalism with respect to our paradigm of circumcision can be a barrier that would prohibit or obstruct a person based upon physical characteristics from serving God in our churches.

I will also make the sabbath into a paradigm as well to represent ethnic culture. Everyone who reads this blog article has a particular culture. For the purposes of this blog article, culture refers to any set of customs, traditions, practices, or rituals that make your culture distinct, different or separate from another culture. That doesn’t mean your culture cannot share values or things with other cultures, but the total of your customs, etc., make your culture distinct from other cultures. Some of the markers that tend to divide or exclude people in culture today are: money, social status, employment, heritage, nationality, political ideology, religion, material possessions including money, moral values, education, sexual orientation, and mental illness. These markers can be very deceptive. Of course we shouldn’t exclude someone on the basis of money or material possessions. That seems fairly obvious, but is it? Are people who are highly successful in business more likely to be given leadership positions in your church than someone who does not appear to have the “qualifications” to lead? Are leadership positions available to people who are not highly educated? Can someone lead in your church if they hold political beliefs or religious beliefs that are not entirely in line with what the church or denomination believes? I believe that the deeper we dig, the more likely we will find legalistic policies and practices in most churches that are there specifically to exclude certain people from service within that church. The policies may have been there for decades, virtually unknown to most people in the church because the current leadership does not revisit the constitution or governing principles of the church regularly. If someone attended your church from another culture or faith how well-equipped is your church to deal with the disparity of culture that might come into play? I believe that sabbath legalism is the most treacherous and insidious form of legalism. We can so easily move from inclusive to exclusive and not even be aware of the movement. There are so many good reasons to exclude people. We can usually find Bible verses to support our views, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are right. 

As with circumcision and sabbath, I will make diet a paradigm as well. What we eat is largely a matter of personal choice, so this paradigm will deal with personal choices. In the New Testament our first century brothers and sisters in Christ were concerned about things like eating meat sacrificed to idols, whether or not eating pork was allowed, or whether drinking alcoholic beverages is appropriate. Some churches still have strict morals or codes of ethics around consumption of alcohol. Beyond food choices there are numerous other choices that tend to divide people today. One of the choices that I have experienced relates to entertainment. Is it right for followers of Jesus to watch movies that are violent, or have sexual content, or use profanity? Is it appropriate for Christians to listen to music that has violent or profane content? In some cases, the debate over choices can be downright silly, such as what kind of salad dressing one should put on a salad. What version of the Bible is the best? I’ve witnessed many contentious debates about Bible versions. I am not going to spend too much time trying to unpack this paradigm because it is an easy one for anyone who reads this blog to do themselves. I would, though, challenge everyone who reads this blog to unpack it for their own information and education. I have friends who are vegans or vegetarians and they are not always gracious in accepting my choices in food. I have a feeling many may be able to relate to that point. 

I believe that legalism appeals to most of us because it creates a safe place where we do not have to wrestle with difficult or unpleasant moral or ethical choices. When the Apostle Paul extolled the virtues of liberty a little later in the book of Galatians, he exhorted them to guard their liberty, protect it, and don’t let anyone steal it from them. There will always be a tension between guarding our liberty and being legalistic. Many people around the world, particularly in more progressive nations with respect to race, cannot understand the rationale behind the white supremacist movement in the United States. It isn’t that the US has cornered the market on racism or bigotry. I believe the appeal of white supremacy is that it is a very safe place for people who feel threatened by other races and cultures. In the same way, legalism provides this same safe place for Christians who fear living in liberty where other people can make choices and be different without being sinful. While that may be true, God has given us liberty, choice, the ability to be different without it being sinful. I believe we need to not only embrace that, but celebrate it, and praise God for it. 

As always, comments are welcome. 

Food File: October 6 2017

I know I am a day late this week in posting my Food File update. Food has not been my biggest problem this past week. I am still deep in a pit of depression. Most of the time I have little interest in food. In the past, that has been a problem because I have no interest in preparing good food, or buying good food to cook. All of a sudden, I realize I am hungry and grab whatever is handy and easy to eat. Almost always it will be something unhealthy. 

This week when I went to my Wednesday night Bible study, I decided to have two slices of pizza for supper. The snacks are getting better at the other end of the counter. There were some cupcakes, but I am not all that attracted to cupcakes, so I passed on them. There was an interesting snack that looked like it was made on a piece of celery, although it didn’t taste like celery. It seemed to be spiced tuna with a chopped veggies. I had a few pieces and quite enjoyed it, although I am still not entirely sure what I ate. There was pumpernickel bread and dip and I indulged in that too. 

Other than Wednesday night there weren’t any opportunities where I might have overeaten to binged on food that could be a problem. I skipped my Friday night Celebrate Recovery meeting due to depression. That was a bad choice, not with respect to food, but just a bad choice emotionally. I skipped breakfast on Sunday morning and wound up eating a number of Timbits (donut holes for non-Canadians) at church, which wasn’t really enough. 

Today will be somewhat busy with household chores. I will probably have a Boost meal replacement for breakfast as I am not really a breakfast person anyway. I am planning on spaghetti for lunch. I now use lean ground chicken instead of beef for my pasta sauce. Before I go to my Celebrate Recovery meeting tonight I will have 3 eggs with egg whites and a couple of slices of bread. After the meeting they serve healthy snacks and I usually have tortilla chips and salsa, and some cheese. 

Anyway, that’s my update for this week.

Boundaries & Structure

Thesis Statement: Boundaries and structure provide a safe environment for people who have been broken by addiction and abuse.

Unlike most of my posts, which I write off-the-cuff, this post will include a couple of external sources and have a more academic feel to it. I will begin by presenting a couple of concepts or scenarios that are commonly regarded as being without structure. I will then narrow the focus to groups such as churches or Bible studies and the impact that a lack of structure has on them. Finally, I will discuss why boundaries and structure in a social scenario, such as a church or Bible study is essential to creating a safe place where the likelihood of abuse is diminished or denied. 

Anarchy can be defined as: the absence or denial of any authority or established order (Merriam-Webster). Many people confuse anarchy with chaos, which is a state of confusion, or disorder. Anarchy is the absence of authority, such as law, government, a legal system, or rules. According to this definition, any rule or condition that binds human behavior would be seen as evil or corrupt. The ultimate goal of anarchy would be freedom, the ability to act or speak in any manner without boundary or limits. I will argue that this is a mirage, an illusion, which cannot exist in any human collectivity of any size. 

The state of nature, which is a social political term can be defined as: the real or hypothetical condition of human beings before or without political association (Encyclopedia Britannica). There are two dominant theories about what the state of nature would be like. Thomas Hobbes believed that the state of nature would be warlike with “war with every man against every man” (The Leviathan). John Locke believed that it would be peaceful and equated it with reason. As the state of nature has never actually existed in recorded history, it is up to the individual’s beliefs in the inherent nature of humankind to determine or conclude whether it would be warlike or peaceful. I tend to believe that it would be more warlike than peaceful, but as human beings we tend to crave peace, the state of nature would not last long as we would quickly move toward order. 

Living in a country with no government, no laws, no constitution, no courts, no police or armed forces might sound like a utopian experience because you could do whatever you wanted any time you wanted, but there is always a flipside to everything. While your state of nature might be peaceful and plentiful, another person’s concept of it might be lawless and violent. Imagine living in a state where you want to live in peace but your neighbor believes the strong survive and the weak die. Hence, whenever he or she may want something, they take it. If you try to recover what was taken, they can use deadly force to stop you. Imagine if everyone in your society was grouped into these two camps. Which camp would eventually win? I am hoping that humanity never finds out.

What would a church look like if there was no structure, no boundaries, no rules, nothing to establish any sense of order? What if there was no hierarchy in the church, no established leadership, no governing body to maintain order of any kind? God is way ahead of us on this because He did establish order in the church. God put trustworthy people in charge to be pastors and teachers, elders, and leaders who could maintain order. This was not to suffocate creativity and our ability to enjoy worship, but to ensure that everyone can worship within reasonable boundaries of behavior. Yes, there are limits in every church, but there are limits in workplaces and schools, and in public places as well.

But didn’t Jesus come to do away with the law? No, He came to fulfill the law and tear down religions which imposed suffocating rules on people. These rules prevent people from experiencing the real freedom and liberty God wants them to enjoy. Jesus did not come to dismantle human government. In fact, He instructed his followers to pay their taxes. Anyone who follows Jesus belongs to the Kingdom of God first, then to a human government second. Being a follower of Jesus does not give us license to live above or beyond the realm of law, boundary or structure. It means we are in a relationship with the One who can enable us to obey God. 

There is a simple, but flawed logic. Without law, there is no sin. Without sin, there is no such thing as disobedience. If there is no law, then there is nothing to disobey. It sounds good, right, but it is flawed. Before Adam sinned in the Garden in Eden, he and Eve enjoyed perfect peace with God. Once Adam sinned, though, and sin entered the human race, so did the ability to abuse everything that God provided. In order to prevent humankind from abuse there had to be laws, rules, boundaries, and structure. 

So, what about people with addictions? One of the hallmarks of both addiction and abuse is the destruction of all boundaries, limits, taboos, rules, and structure. This allows people who are addicts and those who abuse others to indulge without any limits whatsoever. I am both a survivor of abuse and an addict. One part of me craves an environment in which there are no boundaries or limits. The delusion is that it is real freedom because there are no pesky rules to inhibit whatever I want to do. Being addicted to junk food, I would love to be at a party where I could eat as much sugary stuff as I wanted with no limits. Being both a survivor of abuse and one who abused many people verbally and emotionally over the years, an environment in which I could say anything I wanted without limits is the most dangerous place on earth for me. Both situations appear to be freedom, but in fact they are prisons without bars. 

I have been to Bible studies where boundaries and structure is virtually nonexistent. For addicts and survivors of abuse, environments like these can be dangerous and insecure places. Leaders sometimes strive to maintain these groups without any internal order or structure, believing it would limit or inhibit people sharing about their lives. They very well may be right, but it also creates a scenario where unintentional or accidental abuse can run rampant. Most of the time, abuse is quite intentional, even when the abuser doesn’t see it as abuse. Unintentional or accidental abuse occurs in an environment of anarchy where authority or order is denied or rejected. No one intends to abuse another person, but because of the lack of order or structure, people are offended, insulted, mistreated, hence abused. It may not be intentional, but it is still wrong. 

Boundaries and structure do not have to be suffocating or feel like handcuffs. Most 12 Step groups have clearly stated boundaries of conduct that keep all participants safe. Leaders are facilitators trained to be gentle guides and maintain a sense of order without being legalistic or harsh. This creates a safe place for someone like me. I know the boundaries, the rules, what is and is not appropriate, and I can live within those boundaries and feel safe. 

In conclusion, I am not writing about anyone in particular. I have experienced a number of Bible study groups over the years that have been characterized by a lack of structure. I have not fared well in any of them. Structure and routine are very important elements in my life because without them I tend to drift into very dark places that do not turn out well for me.  

 

The Great Banquet

To many who follow Jesus this is a familiar parable. Jesus had been invited to dinner at the home of a leader of the Pharisees, a dominant religious sect of His time. At one point he tells a story about a great feast. The host had sent out many invitations, but everyone who had been invited, when told the feast was ready, came up with excuses why they could not attend. The host then commanded his servant to invite “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame“, but there was still more room. So the host ordered his servant to go out and find even more people to attend the feast. Look in places where the servant had not looked the first time, was the message. The servant did as he had been instructed.

The study notes for The Meeting House Home Church studies that week asked this question: How do we translate this into our situation today in 2017? I don’t think we really unpacked that answer at the table at which I was sitting that week, so I am going to take this opportunity to do so now. 

I believe this is entirely consistent with Christ’s fundamental kingdom ethic of reaching out to the orphans in our society. Orphans are usually people who have no voice, no power, no place of prominence or status. They are not leaders, nor are they ever considered for leadership. They are the broken, the disadvantaged, the unfortunate people who existed on the benevolence of the rich and the powerful. They are people who make for lively discussions, but when confronted with the homeless person on the street, or the lonely single person in our churches, we divert our glances, change the subject, or walk away. These are the people we “pray for” on high holidays, but who often spend these days alone remembering better times. 

The same people Jesus wanted to invite to His banquet are among us today. I think one of the delusions about living in a wealthy country like Canada is we don’t recognize the impact of first-world poverty. It is a different kind of poverty than that of the third world, but the social impact on people living in poverty I believe is much the same. I am a person who lives well below the poverty line in Canada, but I live in a nice area of Oakville. I feel the disparity between people I consider to be wealthy and myself. Sometimes I can’t quantify it, but I know there is a difference between myself and the person sitting next to me. I know there is a difference between how that person sees the world and my perception of it. At times, I catch myself making value judgments about people I do not know. 

What does the parable of the banquet look like in 2017? In Canada, Thanksgiving is next Monday. If Christians at my church were to put this parable to practice in real life, there would be no single people sitting at home watching television marathons and eating frozen dinners. They would all be celebrating Thanksgiving with families or couples who are hosting a dinner for people who have nowhere else to go. Many years ago I attended a Bible school in Texas. I was there for an American Thanksgiving and wound up going to three different homes for Thanksgiving dinner on the same day. I was younger and could eat a lot more in those days. I was also there one Christmas when a family invited me to join them for Christmas Day. I got there expecting to participate in the joy of watching this family unwrap their gifts when someone handed me a gift. It was a tie. This was the spirit of Jesus’s banquet. About thirty years ago an elderly man named Charlie, and his wife, hosted a Christmas dinner every year for homeless people living in downtown Toronto. They lived in upscale Etobicoke in a nice home, but that one day they opened their home to the people Jesus described in this parable. It may not be safe in our day and age to open our homes to random strangers, but I believe there are other things that Christians can do to fulfill the spirit of this parable. One day a man I did not know bought me a cup of coffee at a coffee shop. It was a random act of kindness. I had never met the man and I never saw him again, but he definitely brightened my day.

Our lives are littered with opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the people around us. We glorify the spectacular opportunities to impact someone’s life. Many years ago I came across a saying: Great opportunities to serve God rarely come. Small ones surround us daily. The font for the first sentence was huge. The font for the second sentence in that saying was so small you could barely read it. Perhaps all you can do is offer someone a cold cup of water, or a tissue to wipe away a tear. I believe the spirit of that parable wasn’t the feast, but the fact that the host reached out to people he may have ignored in the past and welcomed them into his home and fed them.

Confusion, Delusion, and Reality

The murky, dark fog of depression can be confusing to some, but to anyone who has experienced this kind of mental fog, it is all too familiar. This is a very lonely place because nothing is really clear when I am in the pit of depression and it feels like I am surrounded by this thick, dense, black fog. To those, who have experienced this fog, you are not alone, even though it really feels like you are. To those who are fortunate enough to have never experienced this murky fog of depression, I am hoping that what I write might offer you some insight if someone you know is in this pit right now. There is one thing that is very clear to me: it is not rational in any way. 

When I am in this pit my mind is swirling with contradictory thoughts about what people say or things that happen. Am I the only one? Why does this always happen to me? It isn’t just the odd thought, but these thoughts come at me like a flood, and at times, like a mental tsunami. It is the intensity and the frequency of these insecure thoughts, the doubt that always accompanies them, and the mental anguish as I try to untangle what might or might not be real. The insecurity can be very intense at times, but fear generally comes along for the ride. While I am almost positive that guy meant to hurt me, although deep down I am pretty sure I just took the comment the wrong way, I am also afraid to confront the situation in case my fears might, in fact, be real. The insecurity and the fear are powerful chains that tend to keep me imprisoned in my bedroom, alone in the dark, almost like a womb where I feel secure from external threats. At times like these, I silence my phone and do what I can to shut out the world, at least for a short time.

The longer I stay in isolation, the more susceptible I become to delusion or paranoia. The confusion, insecurity, and fear are the kindling, of sorts, for delusions and paranoia about people and events. When I reach this stage (and mercifully for me it usually doesn’t last very long), I convince myself that venues that are designed for my healing work against me for various reasons. I usually attend a Celebrate Recovery meeting on Friday nights. I did not attend this past week because I have felt ignored and alone at times due to physical disabilities. I managed to build the scenario that married men were hanging out together ignoring me because I am single. Yes, as I write those words, they do appear to be delusional and paranoid. I will own that, but in the pit of depression where nothing is really all that clear, these delusional thoughts swirl around my mind creating a perfect storm that tends to paralyze me emotionally, then physically. God has blessed me with a wonderful imagination. This is the dark side of that gift.

When I am in this pit, I also experience intense sadness or mourning, almost as if I am grieving the loss of a loved one. I have grieved the loss of my father, so I know what it is like. I would describe this grief as a situational grief. I am mourning or sad about the state of my life as I see it. I am often moved to tears, not over what someone has done or said to me, but because of how I see my life right now. It is not realistic or balanced. In isolation, though, there are no checks and balances. I am free to think whatever I want to think, grieve as I see fit, and continue the delusions and paranoia until something comes along to snap me out of it. Generally, that “something” is a someone — a person who reaches out to me for some reason, calls, texts, emails, or takes the initiative to contact me and is not offended if I do not respond immediately. 

Sometimes reality returns in a flash, as if someone flicked a light switch. Other times it can take weeks or even a couple of months for me to recover from an episode of depression. I feel somewhat better today but I also feel emotionally unstable. As I look ahead to my week, I have a few events planned, but there are still days that are blank. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I am an introvert and need solitude to settle down after a period of social intensity. I had a good day at church, but I am now looking forward to spending the rest of the day in solitude. 

Depressing Reality

I have been in a pit of depression for weeks now. There have been occasional moments during those weeks where I think I am pulling out of the pit, but generally something comes along to knock me back into this dark pit of depression.

The most recent event that sent me back into the pit involved my computer. About 8 years ago I made a really good decision and bought an Apple Mac Mini. My father had given all the kids some money and I needed a new computer. It was a good decision. That was 8 years ago. I exist on Ontario Disability, which gives me enough to make it from one month to another. Saving money is extremely difficult and the thought of having to buy another computer is terrifying. I cannot work and have no money behind me. 

The other day I had the idea of doing video podcasts and putting them on YouTube. A lot of people do this and I thought it might be fun to try it. I have always had iMovie on my computer, at least I thought I had it. When I went to the App Store to download a new copy of it, I discovered that my computer is too old. The new version won’t work and Apple does not offer superseded versions of their programs to people with older computers. When I spoke to an Apple tech about options, he told me to buy a new computer.

I know a guy at my church who uses Apple computers for work. I thought he might have an older copy of iMovie that he could give me. It’s a free program. In an email exchange which I clearly misunderstood, he sent an email message telling me that for $400 it was mine. He had mentioned he had an old laptop and I thought he was talking about the old laptop. Later, I realized he was referring to the free program and it was a joke. My response was that I did not have $400 and if I did I would be inclined to use it to support World Vision children, or to help buy clothing for poor people who didn’t have proper clothing for the winter, or to host Thanksgiving dinner for people who had nowhere to go and would be alone on Thanksgiving. 

My church has a large Bible study on Wednesday nights which I attend. This week we talked about the parable of the great feast in Luke 14. In the study guide, one of the questions asked, “What do you think this parable would look like today, in 2017?” or something like that. Oddly, no one could answer this question or offer any insights about what the great feast might look like today. The people at this Bible study, almost to a person, are affluent enough that they would likely give no more thought to buying a car or a computer than I would to buying a cup of coffee. My perception of these people, whether it is accurate or not, is that these are fairly rich people. 

Am I poor? Yes I am, but I am not World Vision poor. I am not as poor or impoverished as people in 3rd world countries. That is a different understanding of poverty. I am first-world poor. One man at my church told me that anyone on Ontario Disability or social assistance is so far below the poverty line they can’t see it looking up. I think that is a pretty fair understanding of first-world poverty. I now wonder if it is easier to be poor in a place where everyone else is equally impoverished than it is in a place where one person is poor among relative great wealth. When people make jokes about $400 as if it’s pocket change, the reality of my poverty rises to the surface and it can trigger depression. I sink into that pit of murky, foggy depression where I realize that I am poor, that buying another Mac Mini is impossible unless someone buys it for me — and I know that isn’t going to happen. 

I am writing this post from the pit of depression. It is my perspective today. It is a snapshot of where I am today.