Daily Archives: June 24, 2016

The Nawab of the Newsroom

http://www.dawn.com/news/1266889/mirza-hassan-akhtar-the-nawab-of-the-newsroomAn amazing tribute to my uncle by Dawn, the newspaper where he was bureau chief. What an amazing career he had, what an amazing man he was, in his professional and very decidedly in his personal life. A giant whose shoes will never be filled. ❤️

Mirza Hassan Akhtar — the nawab of the newsroom

AMIR WASIM — PUBLISHED ABOUT 21 HOURS AGO

 ISLAMABAD: “This is a newspaper office, not the fire brigade,” veteran journalist Mirza Hassan Akhtar had exclaimed when someone from a government department called the Dawn office to ask for coverage of an event that was due to begin in an hour’s time.

This was a time long before the advent of electronic media; when assignment editors and bureau chiefs would assign events for coverage at least one day in advance.
Known as ‘Nawab Sahib’ to friends and colleagues, the former Dawn bureau chief in Islamabad passed away peacefully on Thursday after a brief illness. He was 88.
Born in Lahore in 1928 to family of educationists, Akhtar was brought up in a household that directly contributed to the creation of Pakistan and performed invaluable services towards the promotion of education, particularly among the Muslims of pre-partition India.
Former Dawn Islamabad bureau chief laid to rest on Thursday
His father, Mirza Mohammad Saeed, was a well-known professor of English at the Government College, Lahore; his mother was the great-granddaughter of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, founder of the historic MAO College, which later became Aligarh University.

Unlike the stereotype of journalists as disorganised individuals, Akhtar led a disciplined life, close associates and old colleagues recall. According to his old colleagues, he was very punctual and always reached the spot on time.
“We nicknamed him ‘Nawab Sahib’ because of his sophisticated personality,” senior journalist Shahid-ur-Rehman, a long-time colleague and close friend of Akhtar’s, told Dawn.
“I remember that long before mineral water became common, he always brought his own drinking water with him. He was watched what he ate and was meticulous about his diet,” recalled Mr Rehman, whose 42-year professional association with Akhtar began in 1974 at the Daily Morning News in Rawalpindi.
According to Mr Rehman, Akhtar was very “selective about his friends”. “He was a thorough professional and very set in his ways. Whatever he wrote, he wrote with authenticity,” he added.
Akhtar began his career at the age of 20 with the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) in Karachi, soon after independence, when the news agency was being run under a trust.
Later, he served APP in various cities, including Rawalpindi, Quetta and Dhaka. He had also worked as an APP correspondent in India for some time.
In 1961, the news agency was taken over by the government through an ordinance. This was ostensibly promulgated to put APP on sound financial footing, but journalists associated with it were allowed to retain their independent status. They were not regarded as government or semi-government employees and were governed by labour laws, which also govern those working in the newspaper industry.
During his career in journalism, spanning over five decades, Akhtar had the privilege to work with some of leading personalities in Pakistan’s history, such as Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He had also briefly assisted Fatima Jinnah in her political career.
It was perhaps due to his support for Ms Jinnah in her campaign against military dictator Field Marshal Ayub Khan that Akhtar earned a great deal of respect from the founder of the PPP. According to colleagues and family members, he frequently remained in direct contact with Mr Bhutto.
He also witnessed and covered the signing of the historic Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan in 1972.
It was due to his independent nature that Akhtar later quit the APP and joined an English daily, the Morning News Karachi as its Rawalpindi bureau chief. He also worked for the BBC Urdu Service and as a correspondent for the London Times in Pakistan.
He replaced M.A. Mansuri as bureau chief of Dawn in Islamabad when the latter resigned to move to the UK in the early 1980s. Akhtar remained associated with Dawn till his retirement in 1988, but continued to write parliamentary diaries and other reports for the newspaper. He also wrote on foreign policy matters and covered visits by foreign dignitaries.
Akhtar leaves behind a widow, a son, a daughter and seven grandchildren to mourn his death. His funeral prayers were offered in Islamabad on Thursday evening. He was then laid to rest at the H-11 graveyard.
His funeral prayers were attended by a number of local journalists, besides old friends and family members. His qul will be offered after Asr prayers on Friday at his residence: House 96, Street 22, Sector F-10/2.
Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2016


I Should Be Happy

Ready. Set. Sail! Here I am again…for the 500th time this week. Sorry I’ve been giving you guys so much reading material. Fuck! You think I’d learn to shut up! I feel so hollow. So damn lonely and sad. I wanna scream but I don’t have the energy. I’m lifeless and cold. A cloud of… More I Should Be Happy

Not Otherwise Specified: The Pain Of Hearing ‘I Don’t Know’

For the last six years, I’ve held on tight to my bipolar diagnosis – it kept me afloat in the midst of very turbulent seas. It was a framework that helped me understand my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; it was a word that helped me find a community of people who were similarly struggling.

I remember listening to Mary Lambert’s song “Secrets” for the first time, with its opening line, “I’ve got bipolar disorder / my shit’s not in order,” and feeling the immediate connection and kinship that only comes from two people with the same endless, chaotic battle.

I felt like that song was for me.

I felt seen in that moment. I felt seen in every moment when someone I knew or someone with visibility came out and said that magic word: Bipolar, bipolar, bipolar, making me feel more and more real every time they stepped out of the shadows.

“Bipolar,” as a label, made me feel safe – like there was sense in the senseless, an anchor in an uncertain storm.

And that’s why, after a painfully long and involved evaluation, it was difficult to hear a psychiatrist say to me, “I don’t know if you have bipolar disorder.”

Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, they told me, otherwise known as the grey area between depression and bipolar. Because they couldn’t just let me have depression, either – they left it ambiguous, leaving me straddling two words and two communities and two answers, pulling the ground out from underneath me.

In so many ways, this label was hollow. It was a question more than it was a statement. I couldn’t turn to the world and say, “This is what I’m going through” or “this is how much it hurts.” There’s no measure of severity, or list of symptoms, or a simple story to tell the world, tell my parents, tell my partner what’s happening to me.

Not Otherwise Specified is an empty place that tries to hold the entirety of your struggle, tries to say everything there is to say, without really holding or saying anything at all.

As if to say, “Your mind is out of bounds and we are out of words.”

My suffering has colored outside the lines like a child with no sense of where it all starts and stops.

I have no sense of where it all starts and stops.

In addition to my Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, they have other things to specify: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which I should’ve suspected but never knew, and Borderline Personality Disorder, which they suspect is the root of my misdiagnosis.

It all feels true enough, but it also feels too new.

This, in addition to my agoraphobia, in addition to my alcohol use disorder, which both come with their own pain, a pain that I sometimes feel all over my body instead of just in my mind.

What happened to me?

There are so many names for my trauma, and so many names still missing, some more precise than others.

Just like that, I was OCD, I was borderline – two things I’d both always been and never been before – and bipolar, the very center of it all, slipped from my grasp and became an unknown, as if it were never here.

And maybe it wasn’t.

People say that we invest too much in labels, that we aren’t our diagnoses. I can’t say for sure that they’re right or wrong.

But I suspect they don’t know the loneliness of suffering something nameless. I suspect they don’t know the confusion of lacking the words to convey your pain. And I suspect they don’t know the relief when the words lead you to someone else who knows that pain, too.

When I lost “bipolar,” I lost more than just a label – I lost the story that helped me make sense of it all, the words to describe my pain, and the connection to other people who understood both.

Not Otherwise Specified is not a story, not an answer, not a connection. It’s a placeholder, a seat saved for something or someone that hasn’t yet arrived.

And what am I supposed to do with that?


A Letter to My Little Cousin, Recently Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

Dear Little Cousin,

When your mother told me that you had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I cried.

I wept because I did not want anyone else in the family to walk the road I am on with my own bipolar disorder diagnosis. I wept because bipolar disorder can be more difficult to manage the younger that you are when you are diagnosed. I was 23 when my symptoms surfaced. You are 14. I feel that is too young to have to deal with emotional and mental concerns.

And yet visiting you in the hospital was bittersweet. It dredged up memories of my own hospitalizations – all four of them – but I was glad that you were receiving treatment and on the road to recovery and wellness.

Attending your 8th grade graduation, my heart swelled with pride. And love. And hope. I felt all of this because the last few months were not easy for you. You had more than your fair share of challenges to overcome. Thankfully, you did not have to do any of it alone.

The relationship you have developed with your therapist warms my heart. She has impacted you to your core, so much so that you, too, now want to be a therapist. That would be the ultimate way of paying it forward, of passing on what was instilled into you.

I know you are only 14, but if this career goal sticks, I know that you will make an excellent therapist. You have firsthand knowledge of what it means to live in mood instability and mood stability. You know the impact of a caring adult and professional; and from what you told me about how you relate to your peers, listening and giving advice, you are already honing important skills.

Listening to you talk about your newfound career interests made me beam with pride. I, too, want to become a therapist because of my own experiences with my diagnosis. I, too, have been blessed with great, caring mental health providers and I want to pay it forward.


I hope that I can also be a role model for you in how to live in recovery and instability. I’ve had nearly ten years to learn about my bipolar disorder. I’ve learned to be reflective and proactive. If you ever need help navigating your moods or self-care or high school next year, I’m here.

Love always,
Krystal

A Letter to My Little Cousin, Recently Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

Dear Little Cousin,

When your mother told me that you had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I cried.

I wept because I did not want anyone else in the family to walk the road I am on with my own bipolar disorder diagnosis. I wept because bipolar disorder can be more difficult to manage the younger that you are when you are diagnosed. I was 23 when my symptoms surfaced. You are 14. I feel that is too young to have to deal with emotional and mental concerns.

And yet visiting you in the hospital was bittersweet. It dredged up memories of my own hospitalizations – all four of them – but I was glad that you were receiving treatment and on the road to recovery and wellness.

Attending your 8th grade graduation, my heart swelled with pride. And love. And hope. I felt all of this because the last few months were not easy for you. You had more than your fair share of challenges to overcome. Thankfully, you did not have to do any of it alone.

The relationship you have developed with your therapist warms my heart. She has impacted you to your core, so much so that you, too, now want to be a therapist. That would be the ultimate way of paying it forward, of passing on what was instilled into you.

I know you are only 14, but if this career goal sticks, I know that you will make an excellent therapist. You have firsthand knowledge of what it means to live in mood instability and mood stability. You know the impact of a caring adult and professional; and from what you told me about how you relate to your peers, listening and giving advice, you are already honing important skills.

Listening to you talk about your newfound career interests made me beam with pride. I, too, want to become a therapist because of my own experiences with my diagnosis. I, too, have been blessed with great, caring mental health providers and I want to pay it forward.


I hope that I can also be a role model for you in how to live in recovery and instability. I’ve had nearly ten years to learn about my bipolar disorder. I’ve learned to be reflective and proactive. If you ever need help navigating your moods or self-care or high school next year, I’m here.

Love always,
Krystal

*Waves Sheepishly*

 

Hi everyone! I hope nobody has been worried about me. I’m fine mentally, just really, really, really hampered by chronic fatigue. I get my ‘mandatory’ writing done in the morning, and then get stuck into work + caring for the little one, and there’s not a lot left at the end of the day. I just sort of curl up mindlessly with my knitting and my gaming (and then forget to write about that as well. Whups).

But yeah, mentally things have been grand. Between being back on the extended release Seroquel, that final bump to the max dose of the Zoloft, and going down to a less headache-y dose of Depakote, my only complaint is that I’m burning through my melatonin supplies to try and get my go-to-sleep back on an even keel. I have no idea when I’m going to see my psych next, though the plan was (as I’ve said before) to switch from Depakote to Abilify at some point in the future. It would be nice to be on a med that doesn’t give me headaches, or 20+ pounds of extra weight. ¬¬

I’ve also not heard anything on the ADHD referral that Dr. K was working on trying to get pushed through. One of my friends recently started working on my doctor’s office, and she said she didn’t see anything about it there in spite of the fact I know firsthand that Dr. K had contacted them about it (as she did it on front of me). I’m frustrated obviously, especially since adult ADHD isn’t taken seriously here, but meh. There is no use fretting about it.

So yeah, still alive, limping by. So it goes. Hope everyone out there is doing alright!

<3

Preparing to Go

We’re getting everything together to leave tomorrow morning for Disney World.  ALl I really have to do is get some medicine filled before I go and make sure we have all our meds and other things.  We bought most of our supplies and have our suitcases packed.  The really big thing left is picking up the rental car at lunch–Bob and my oldest are taking care of that.  I hate packing because I always feel like I’m going to forget something important.  But I think we have it all together this time. The kids are washing the last of the dishes and we’re going to eat out the rest of the day:).

I’m really happy with how I am feeling thus far this summer.  I’ve largely stayed awake during the days and I haven’t been using caffeine to do it–I’ve just been  able to function better than usual. I’ve stayed up with my class and am accomplishing good things in it.  I hate that Bob doesn’t feel comfortable with me leaving this fall and having to cancel that, but I understand his feelings.  Maybe if I have a good spring I can sign up for the spring one. We will see.

Hope everyone enjoys their independence day!

 

 

 


Flukes of Hazard

I know I mock the town where I live mercilessly. I suppose it’s not exactly a stinktank of morons. Just a large percentage. It IS however a boring unremarkable place. The other day’s headline on the newspaper was about some farmer being proud of his $50,000 boar.  Yesterday I drove by a building that said, “Boss Hoggs’ Cafe” coming soon.” EYE ROLL. Yeah, we’re small town hicks, let’s just fucking ensure everyone knows it for sure. (If you don’t know who Boss Hogg is, well, obviously you never had a little sister who packed her Bo Duke lunch box everywhere for two years.)

Pfft.

I have been rantless for days now. Because…my father basically ninja kidnapped my spawn. Fine, I was sick of the neighbor brats, take away the brat magnet, I get peace. I told dad two days. They decided they’re keeping her until tomorrow. Did not ask. INFORMED me. Because they have plans that include her and my brother wants to take her to her church youth group and…HELLO BITCHES. My kid. MINE.

Much as I needed the peace, by day four I was starting to feel like an extraneous third nipple ala Chandler on Friends. I mean, my kid wasn’t calling to talk to me. When I did talk to her it was for two minutes then she was busy and on her way. It’s like, I’m not necessary at all. Anyone can take care of her, she doesn’t fucking care. And that HURTS. I mean, I gotta do one or two things right. Oh, but dad has more money to go places and buy stuff so…Yesterday I just kinda went splat on the mood front. I guess I’ve become one of those neurotics who have no identity without their kid. (Actually, I’ve done fine keeping myself busy this week with things I enjoy that don’t make me wanna throat punch anyone under the age of thirty.) It’s just…you try so damned hard for your kid(s) and they have this innate ability to make you feel…useless.

I pepped back up when she called last night, via dad. She’s getting home sick and wanted to talk to her mommy. Awww. Hearing her voice on the phone is so sweet, she just sounds so cute. That made me feel better. Not forgotten. She wants to come back, though she tried to tell me she may have plans and not be back Sat. I said EXCUSE ME, I’m the mom and I want you home on Saturday. Period. We’re supposed to go this big cookout shindig Mrs R is throwing for R;s birthday (making the birthday cook all the grilled food, of course) but I am starting to develop a sickness. Yeah, you know the one. OMG THERE ARE GONNA BE FORTY PEOPLE THERE AND I AM NOT IN EMOTIONAL STABLE TERRITORY.

Now why is that since curse week’s over?  Because I spent Monday and Tuesday sans kid- with a 53 year old man filling the spot. Wifey was gone at work and he needed someone to whine to about how dire his financial situation is. In fact he brought me smokes and Mangoritas, then told me I need to pay him the ten bucks back. You come uninvited, bring me stuff I didn’t ask for, and I OWE you???Meanwhile his wife is blowing about four hundred bucks on all the booze and food for his party cookout.

Is it just me being petty and bipolar or does that not seem like the stupidest bullshit ever? Oh I get it’s “her money” and she can waste it on whatever she wants. But if he’s demanding ten bucks repayment from me over shit I didn’t ask for and didn’t invite him over…WTF? Pettty. Shallow. Whatever. I cooked him a birthday meal (tradition cos I am always broke) and I am gonna drop it and the ten dollars off at the shop then develop a mysterious condition to avoid the shindig. I actually had a nightmare Spook got lice again and instead of freaking out, I was all like, YESSS, legit reason to skip out!

I am not anti social. I am anti panic attack. I am anti oppression. And being around *certain* factions of R’s family makes me feel oppressed. Yes, I am talking about Ursula. And why is it I can call a medication “Latarda” and people get bent about it being some slam on the mentally retarded, yet I can post time after time about Ursula’s utter lack of professionalism and tact as a therapist and no one ever gets bent? I cannot possibly be the only one traumatized by this woman (demon) . Oppressed. Last week was enough, can’t do it again this week.

But Morgue, it’s not about you, it’s R’s birthday.

Yep. With 39 other people there I won’t even be missed. Except maybe by Mrs. R and the grandkids.

Truth be told…I am feeling more solid. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am who I am. I get pissed off about people who are insensitive or users but that’s them, not me. So maybe I put myself out there a lot trying to be a good friend to R and he usually makes me feel like shit at the end. That’s in him. I would go out and help any friend I cared about. Because it’s who I am.

I refuse to totally relinquish my anger and do this mindful acceptance bullshit. Anger is fuel for my soul. You stop getting pissed off, you become sheeple. People are assholes. I’m just a flawed person who tries very hard and often gets used like a welcome mat. It should make me mad. It just shouldn’t be allowed to define me.

I’ve been sweating bullets all week in every way. In fact, yesterday was the first day all week it wasn’t so hot out I had to sit in front of the fan. I was able to get up and do a few things. Like haul that hideous rocking chair dad gave us out to the shed. Hate that fucking thing. I stripped curtains in the living room and washed them. Did dishes. Vacuumed. Then I ran out of smokes and a 9 p.m. bedtime sounded like a good idea. I was tired, anyway, because I’m still doing battle with the doc and insurance over that ADD med. They finally approved one, which meant another six mile trip to the doctor’s office to get another paper script. They chastised me cos it was written on the 16th.  I told them no one called me. Well, they’re so understaffed, they are no longer required to make any calls to patients. We have to get crystal balls but the insurance won’t cover them..

Exhausting.

I am jamming “Master of Puppets” right now. I’ve been awake since 6:30. No smokes. THIS SUCKS. But I will have them by days end if the fucking postal system doesn’t throw me a curve ball.  Lemmy (one of our kittens, named after, yes, Lemmy Kilmeister) is trying to eat my computer cord. Fucker chewed a speaker cord last week and ruined the speaker. Brat.

Another possibly good note- if R can get that death trap running…My nephew actually wants it for when he turns 18 and gets his license. It’s just been so hot (94F plus daily) I can’t castigate R for not working on it. Nice to know if we can get it running C will take it. Shiny paint is his thing.

I’ve been driving the Buick six weeks now and not a single problem. THAT is my thing.

Back to binge watching Lost Girl. I really didn’t think I’d give a damn about fae/fairy stuff but it’s a pretty good show. I’m maxing myself out on sci fi , last week I finished all seasons of Haven. I guess fiction is just more interesting than real life.

That and in fiction, I NEVER have to hear the words “Trump” or “Hillary”.

I am hoping the zombie apocalypse hits or we get nuked before either of them are allowed to make the problem worse.

Yes, I got anti political. I want the flying spaghetti monster for president.

PEGACORN FOR VICE PRES!


When One Door Closes…

Just when you think you have your life in order, you are thrown a curveball and need to start over. It is like building a house of cards only to have it collapse on the very last one. Yesterday I … Continue reading

The EU, Motherhood, & the Patriotism of Love

Big Ben & Westminster, earlier this month

“… the very houses seem asleep / and all that mighty heart is lying still!”

Warnings: Heavy duty meandering; patriotism mostly of the ‘love & peace, man’ variety; inevitable whinging.

Having been a UK resident for over half my life, I am cautious when it comes to anything which approaches even the slightest breeze of flag-waving. I saw enough of that when I lived in the States.

When I first drafted this blog, the UK was waiting for the polls to close on the vote about whether or not Britain remains in the European Union (EU). I found myself thinking of a quote from one of my favourite books, James Hilton’s “Random Harvest”:

“...a time may also come when it won’t be enough to love England as a tired business man loves a nap after lunch. We may be called upon to love her as the Irish love Ireland—darkly, bitterly, and with a hatred for some who have loved her less and themselves more.”

I am certainly not urging people to love England, Britain, or indeed any other country “darkly,” “bitterly” or with hatred (see previous reference to “love and peace, man”). And yet, I worry about “some who have loved her less and themselves more.

St Pancras in the clouds: London, June 2016

St Pancras in the clouds: London, June 2016

I’m going to play the immigrant card here: it seems apt, given the degree of carry on there’s been about immigrants, and immigration, during this campaign. In fact, the national attitude toward immigrants is part of why I became a UK citizen. The referendum campaign, as many have noted, has been quite dark, and bitter, at times. I accept, if with surprise at times, that some first and second generation immigrants are in favour of leaving the EU. I am not – as you’ve probably guessed – one of them.

I love being part of something bigger; of a union which, not unlike the United Kingdom itself, believes that countries can have lots of autonomy, yet be part of, as it says on the tin, a “united” kingdom. And, just as England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland spent many years fighting each other, many countries of the EU did likewise.

You’d think the fact that there hasn’t been a war in Europe since the establishment of the EU would be a big selling point, yet this seems to have been swept away in a sea of fear and immigrant bashing, as well as general abuse of the us v them variety. I have tried to avoid failing out over the referendum, because whilst I believe you really can be too rich and/or too thin, you can’t have too many warm acquaintances, and friends.

On the subjects of immigrants who want to leave the EU, I do have a major bone to pick with one of them. This particular woman is an EU national who, during the recent televised debate, didn’t half bang on about being “a mum, and a grandmother”, as if this somehow put a flippin’ halo over her point of view.

Yes, lady, I am childless, but who are you to imply that I don’t have an interest in the future of this country? Not only do I care about what happens to both my countries, I also care about what happens to this planet after I’m gone. This is partly because I have nephews, and nieces, and friends with children. But – I’m going full jackdaw hippy wannabe here – my concern ranges beyond them, to people I have never known, and never will. And yes, also to the descendants of the bees which bimble about in my garden, and to the whole shebang of Earthly flora and fauna.

Hippy wanna-bee

Hippy wanna-bee

I hope that my love for this country, and for the States, never becomes dark, or bitter. I do  admit to a certain amount of anger in my love. In particular, toward those who come across as more self-serving than patriotic, and who to my mind at least, appear to “love her less, and themselves more“.

You know who you are. And yes, I’m pretty sure you don’t read my blog. It’s Friday morning now, and I’ve just seen the results on the Beeb. You’re much too busy smirking to be bothered with the likes of me. And I’m too busy swearing.

The River Foss, York, June 2016

Making a circle: the River Foss, York, June 2016

Tagged: Britain, EU, EU referendum, European Union, full jackdaw, future, James Hilton, motherhood, patriotism, politics, Random Harvest