I have a mental illness and it sucks

I’m fucking mad.

I’m mad that I have to take pills everyday. I’m mad that they don’t work fast enough. I’m mad that they have side effects. I’m mad that they stop working. I’m mad that I currently can’t run because of my meds. I’m really fucking pissed that I feel like a burden to my husband, despite his reassurances that I’m not. I’m mad that he’s afraid to leave me alone. I’m even angrier that I’m afraid to be alone. I’m mad that it seems that my husband and I have a weekly conversation about whether or not we should go to the hospital. I’m mad at how mad I am. I’m mad that I can’t handle stress. I’m mad that I can’t stay up late. I’m mad that I spend what seems like half my life in doctors’ offices. And I’m mad that I’ve had so many blood tests in the past month that the nurse can’t find my veins anymore. It’s like I’m a fucking heroine addict with collapsed veins.

But do you know what I’m most angry at? I’m fucking pissed off that I have a mental illness.

This cat gets me.

This cat gets me.

I may have won the genetic lottery in some aspects of life, but inheriting a mental illness that runs in the family wasn’t my luckiest moment. I don’t know which side of the family I inherited this damn disease from, but both sides make a compelling argument. We’ve got alcoholics to the right and severe depressives to the left, and sometimes the two happen to meet. It’s like my DNA was destined to be fucked.

I know I’m not supposed to say these things publicly because you know, fighting stigma means presenting people with mental illness as happy, healthy, and smiling. Mental health organizations and advocates want to ensure that we appear nonthreatening, so no one really talks about how shitty it is to have a mental illness. Well, guess what? I’m pulling back the motherfucking curtain (and using as many swear words as possible. Does someone want to start a fuck count?).

I have bipolar disorder II and it really fucking sucks. And despite what some mental health advocates say, our mental illnesses do limit our lives.

Almost every major decision that I make is influenced by having bipolar disorder. For example, at 29 years old I have to weigh the consequences of going to a party and staying up late because this means taking my meds late. Taking my meds late means that I’ll be incapacitated by grogginess the next day and waste it in bed. Every time I have a social engagement, I have to ask myself, is it worth it? Instead of agreeing or disagreeing based on my schedule, I weigh the consequences to my mental health. This may seem like a ridiculous, insignificant aspect of life to be worried about. But do it for 10 years and then come back to me and tell me how insignificant it feels. I guarantee eventually you’ll want to just say, “Fuck it! I’m partying tonight who cares!” And then you’ll feel like shit the next day, not because you’re hungover (because being bipolar means you shouldn’t really drink) but because you’re medication is slated to meant to sedate you. You’ll wish you were hungover because it will feel better than being groggy.

Sick person

Or how about this? My ability to manage stress is significantly lower than yours. I don’t know if this is standard across people with bipolar disorder, but it seems the more stressful the situation the more my disease rears its ugly head. This
sucks because I work in a fast-paced, high-stress job that I’ve just realized is not good for my disease. To make matters worse, I’m really good at what I do and I actually like it. A year ago I would have told you that this was my career and I would move up the corporate ladder. But now I’m floundering and debating quitting to work at a coffee shop. This weekend, I saw a job posting for a sales clerk in an odds and ends shop. The store was incredibly quiet and I thought – that would be the life! I know as soon as I can leave this corporate job, it’s the end. There’s no high powered, high paying job in my future. I feel deep in my soul that my life will be filled with part-time work that pays a minimum wage.

stressedSince I don’t manage stress, everything is so fucking overwhelming. I used to be a clean freak, now cleaning my house doesn’t even register on my radar because it’s too stressful. I’m so stress out that it’s a fucking miracle that I get out of bed. It’s a feat that I shower, dress, and put make up on. And guess what? It makes me so angry when I’m having a particularly hard day and someone says, “But look at how well you’re doing.” Well guess what? That’s because I slave away at showing you the put together, efficient, and intelligent professional that you think I am. I would love to show you the crying, angry, insecure mess that lives inside of me, but you don’t actually want to see that. Despite what you say.

When I’m home (never alone, obviously) it’s my husband who gets to see all of these nasty bits. My favourite thing to do right now is to rage cry. This is when I fly into a sudden fury and start throwing and slamming things around until I tire myself out and fall apart and start to cry. This rage is frightening. I’ve never felt anything like it before. On Friday, I flew off the handle in the  middle of the grocery store because I didn’t like the way our groceries had been bagged. The kid doing his job had used too many bags and not filled them with enough things, which made walking home with them impossible. I grabbed the bags and started flinging produce into the bag, screaming “this is how you bag fucking groceries. It’s not fucking rocket science.” (I would know, I worked in a grocery store for 2 years).

Luckily we weren’t in front of the poor kid, but I had completely lost myself inside the anger. This wave of anger was the first time I felt like I could potentially hurt someone else. As I slammed produce into bags, my husband asked if we should go home. He was worried. As a joke he said, “I’m afraid you might kill someone.” I shouted back at him, “Well if I killed someone they would probably deserve it for being so fucking stupid!”

Hurting myself is a regular thought of mine, but hurting someone else has never crossed my mind. And it terrified me.

depressionNormally the rage that lives inside of me is more self-directed. I was so angry this past weekend that I was seriously considering vaulting myself over the ledge of my 6th floor balcony because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m not being hyperbolic. I was weighing whether or not the distance from my 6th floor balcony to the ground was far enough to actually kill me, or just paralyze me. I don’t want to be fucking paralyzed and fuck up my husband’s life further than I already have.  I’m actually panicked by the impulsiveness of my rage that I might actually act on it. But suicidal thoughts aren’t new to me. It’s rare that I go one day without thinking about a way to die. Waiting for the metro, and all I think is how easy it would be just to step out and be gone. A cabby takes a left hand turn too quickly and I think, man wouldn’t it be great if he hit me and I died. I pass bodies of water I can’t help but think about drowning. I’m prepping vegetables for dinner and I think, man this knife just wouldn’t be sharp enough to slit my wrists.

This is the reality of my life. I am incredibly unstable right now, which is why everything is so extreme. So, no this isn’t the normal everyday life of a bipolar person, but it’s one part of what it’s like to have bipolar disorder. The hardest part of the disease is that stability is never a guarantee. Sometimes you bring it on yourself, and others it comes out of the blue.

But right now, I’m exhausted by trying to appear normal and pretending that living with my mental illness is no big fucking deal. So the next time you think about “how good I’m performing” or “how good I look” or “that I have a spring in my fucking step” remember that it’s all a performance, an act for your benefit.

The reality is, I have a mental illness and it really fucking sucks.

And don’t forget to enter to win a $30 promo code for Wear Your Label. The contest runs until May 31st.

Rage & love: A glimpse into a bipolar relationship

“Are you mad at me?” He asks from the sofa. I’m standing in the kitchen about to start dinner, and our dishes from lunch are still sitting in the sink.

“No, I’m not mad. Why would I be mad?” I’m doing that stereotypical female thing that, as a feminist, I hate so much. I hate being that trope of a wife. But the fuse in me is lit and it’s short.

“You sound mad…”



“Well I guess it’s up to me to do all these fucking dishes and make dinner!” I scream, throwing the dishes into the sink. Rage possesses me like a demon. It’s like there’s a little voice inside of me shouting at me to shut up, telling me that my anger at him is irrational, and brought on by the hypomania but it’s fighting a losing battle. I am the demon’s bitch. I don’t have control over my words or limbs.

“Well that’s unfair,” he says, joining me in the kitchen. “I was just going to check something quick on the computer and then I thought we’d cook together. I wasn’t leaving you to do all of this on your own. You know I wouldn’t do that.”

Of course I know that. For a moment the little voice inside of me has beaten the demon down. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I say clutching my head, as if holding my head between my hands will somehow keep the demon at bay. “That was totally irrational.”

“It’s okay, you’re not feeling well.” He tries to rub my back, but I feel myself shirk back. I try and mask my aversion to his touch by grabbing a head of broccoli out of the fridge, I reach for a cutting board, and a knife.


He’s right. I’ve been hypomanic for about 2 weeks and the rage is an indication that it’s about to break. I had felt a murderous pressure in my chest all day.I could have ripped the face off a bear. I scowled at anyone who looked at me the wrong (or right) way. It didn’t matter what was said or how someone smiled or even how they complimented my outfit. Everyone was out to get me. Everyone was an idiot. Everyone was in my way. Everyone was just so fucking slow.

The demon is back with a vengeance as I recall my day. Why can’t everyone just do what I want them to do at the speed and capacity that I want them to do it? I wonder, savagely attacking the head of broccoli like it has murdered my puppy. Like, why doesn’t my husband know that he should be fucking washing these dishes right now while I prep dinner? It’s all part of the plan so that we eat by 7 p.m. Why can’t he just see the fucking plan? Why can no one ever see the fucking plan?

“You know,” I say turning and pointing the knife at him. “You should just fucking leave me.” The words come out of my mouth like a flood. They come out before I even think of them because I don’t control them. “You’d be better off without me. Actually, everyone would be better off with out me.”

He takes the knife from my hand and places it on the counter away from my reach. He’s not afraid for his life, but he’s afraid of what I might do to myself.  But I’m not threatening suicide. I truly believe that he would be better off with a partner who wasn’t bipolar. I believe my parents would be better without a bipolar daughter. I know my employer would be better off without a bipolar employee. My existence is just a fucking disaster for everyone.

I have this sickness that turns our lives upside down. I have this sickness that makes me dependent on him in so many ways. He is my support system. He comes to doctors appointments with me. He worries about whether or not this will be the episode when I kill myself. He has been working on his thesis while picking up the slack at home. He does groceries when I cannot handle the people. He cooks. He cleans. He does all of those things that we would normally split because I have been mired in this sickness.

“I have some fucking audacity to be angry with you for not helping out. These past 6 months have been all you taking care of me and the house. Aren’t you tired of babysitting your wife? Fuck I’m such a mess and here I am, angry at you over some fucking dishes. You should just leave me before you just end up resenting me.”

He is crying now. But I’m not sure why. I’m giving him this out that so many men in relationships much worse than ours would beg for. I’m giving him permission to leave me; to be free of me and this illness. I often wonder whether he’s a masochist because the reality that he could actually love me this much is currently beyond my understanding.

The rage has now left me, as if I have gone through an exorcism. Now we can talk through the issues. I explain how guilty I feel. How sorry I am for yelling, for the sickness, and for everything I have ever put him through. And he tells me that he never feels like a babysitter because he loves me. He loves me and all my flaws. He has stayed with me this long and is not going to leave me, ever. I am stuck with him, not vice versa.

And then we fall back into our regular routine. He washes the dishes as I finish preparing dinner. But we both know that this isn’t the end. This won’t be the last time. But we take the calm as it comes.

Is it so much to just want to feel normal?

Orphan Black

The clones from Orphan Black, which admittedly i have been watching and probably why I asked this question.

“If there was a clone version of me, would you be able to differentiate between me and the clone? Like could you tell that it wasn’t the original? This troubles me. I think if there was a clone version of you, I’d totally know that it wasn’t you. It would say something and I’d be like, bam, you’re not Shane you’re a replicate. What’d you do to my husband?”

We were sitting in a small examination room with walls that reminded me of The Yellow Wallpaper. In a few steps, I could walk the length of the room and if I stretched I could touch it wall to wall.

Alice in WonderlandMy husband, who is 6’4, looked gigantic in this tiny room and sitting in an even smaller chair. It was straight out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and he ate the mushroom that made him grow ten feet tall.

Meanwhile, I feel like a caged animal as I pace back and forth and ramble about clones.

“I would know it’s not you because the clone wouldn’t ask me questions like this.” He looks at me and laughs and I laugh too. Was it inappropriate? Was it too loud? I have no control over the volume of my voice.

In these situations where I’m in the grips of my mental illness — in this instance deep in hypomania — my husband has the ability to bring levity to the situation while also keeping me calm.

“Why haven’t we seen the doctor yet?” I asked. We had been waiting in the walk-in clinic for 3 hours. My doctor was working at the walk-in clinic today so I had to spend the long wait in the waiting room with people who are physically ill. I will probably contract some virus from them in the coming days. So that when I finally come down from my hypomania, I will be depressed and sick. I considered putting on one of those masks they give you if you have a cough, but I didn’t want to look crazy. “What if she’s taking so long because she’s calling the hospital thinking that I need to be admitted?”

“That’s a paranoid thought Marisa,” Shane reminds me gently. Logically, I know he’s right. That’s not how the system works. Hypomania overrides all logic and, for me at least, brings in paranoia.

“It’s the waiting, it’s getting to me.” I keep scratching my arms like I’m tweaking. We’ve been here for what seems like forever and I’m about ready to tear my skin off. I can’t sit still. I’m sure the pacing is driving him nuts.

I poke my head out of the room and I can see my doctor on the phone. She’s speaking french. I have to listen hard to understand her because her voice is lowered, and for some reason when I’m hypomanic, understanding french is more difficult. She’s definitely not talking about me.

After 40 minutes of waiting in the Yellow Wallpaper room, my doctor finally comes in to see me. This is the second time I’ve seen her this week. The first was when the hypomania started.

“Ça va mieux Marisa? Are you doing better?” Although she knows I’m an anglophone she speaks in both languages. It’s sort of endearing. We speak in a mixture of French and English. Something that only really happens in Montreal.

“No, I’m not doing any better. It’s getting worse actually.” I try and speak in short succinct sentences because I know that if I talk too much, the words will come out in a loud flood. Hypomanic speech embarrassing. As someone who already speaks fast when I’m healthy, my hypomanic speech is a flood of words that don’t always make sense.

“Oh ma pauvre.” She looks at my husband. “I feel really sorry for your wife. Ce n’est pas facile ça. It’s not easy.”

“So what do we do now?” I ask.

She writes me a script for 1 mg of lorazepam that i’m to take twice daily, plus an extra 50 mg of Seroquel that I’m to take at lunchtime and then at night I take 200 mg of Seroquel. My insurance company is also demanding another note from her with a consultation report.

“I do not think you should start working full-time yet. I want you to go back to 3 days per week.”

“No!” I shout at her. My tone and volume startles her. “No, no, no. I’m not taking steps backwards from going back to work because of this. No. It’s not happening.” I’m shaking my head and pulling my hair back in anxiety.

“But they’re going to ask why if I saw you and you are hypomanic, why are we going to stay the course? Tu comprends?”

“Okay, well I already started at 4 days a week this week. I don’t want to go back to 3 days a week.”

“Okay, so I write that you remain on 4 days a week because of the hypomania. Does that work?”

“I guess…” I’m sitting on the examination table and I kick my legs back and forth like a child. I feel like a loser because of this. Why are my moods cycling so much? Why can’t I just return to work like I wanted to? Nothing ever works out the way I want it to.

“Doctor,” my husband speaks up. He’s been mostly silent during this appointment letting me speak for myself, except when I ask for his observations. He’s a good man. “I’m concerned by the frequency that her moods have been cycling. We’ve had a mixed episode a few weeks ago, depression a few weeks before that, and now this. Should her medications be reevaluated?”

“Je comprend, mais je suis pas psychiatre. I’m not a psychiatrist. Maybe I refer your wife to one.”

I wonder if I look as dejected as I feel.as I stare at my husband. He knows how much I hate psychiatrists. I’ve had so many bad experiences. But ultimately, my doctor is a GP and doesn’t have the expertise to deal with Bipolar Disorder. Perhaps it’s time to bite the bullet and go and see one.

We left the office with a medical consultation report for my insurance company, a referral to the agency that can refer me to a psychiatrist, and more anxiety than I know what to do with.

I call my therapist, who was once a psychiatrist back in Europe but is non-practicing in Quebec, and explain everything that has happened, Once I’ve stopped talking she finally says, “Well you could present yourself to the ER at the Douglas to ensure you see a psychiatrist there. They have a good team that I trust.”

My stomach drops. That’s the last thing I want. I don’t want to be hospitalized. “Isn’t there another way?”

It turns out, at the Douglas Institute that specializes in psychiatry and is more advanced in the way that they treat people, the only way to see one of their psychiatrists is to admit yourself into the ER. The admission into the ER could result in a hospitalization, which would completely ruin my back to work plan. My husband and I discuss this and decide that my fear of hospitalization is greater than my fear of dealing with hypomania.

Right now, I can at least channel my hypomania. I work with it. It’s not pleasant, but I can mold it into useful energy to get shit done. I work out. I socialize. I clean the house.

Hypomania is wrapped up in productivity, which makes me appear normal and ultimately that’s all I really want — to appear normal.

Bipolar Mixed State: Into the breach

This week has been extremely difficult. I have been in the throes of a bipolar mixed state. This means that I am simultaneously experiencing a depressive and hypomanic episode. This means that I have been dealing with rage and agitation while simultaneously being too exhausted to move. It is like being at war with yourself. Like hypomania, there is no sleep, but unlike hypomania there is no excess of energy. There is no elation. There is no abundance of life. Instead you are morose, sad, and teary.


Photo courtesy of New Old Stock

I have spent the week trying to tamper the rage and muddle through my responsibilities with the exhaustion. The anger comes in waves. No, a wave is too gentle for what happens. The rage is more like a tsunami. The sheer force and violence picks me up like I am nothing more than a shred of paper. It thrashes me about until I am bruised and battered. My skin raw and bleeding. Anger, like water, fills my nose, mouth, and lungs; it threatens to drown me. I try and scream, but all that comes out is a sigh. I try and fight it, swimming hard against its current, but it’s useless.

The anger suffocates me until, like the natural ebb of the ocean, it leaves my body. I am left exhausted and defeated. Going through the routine of my life after the sheer violence of the rage is like swimming through mud with limbs made of lead. But just as I feel that I have a handle on things, just as land is in sight, the water swells and pulls me back again into its watery violence.

In addition to bouts of uncontrollable rage, I have been battling intrusive thoughts that can be downright terrifying. Please know that these are different than suicidal thoughts. Although I do think things like — that’s a big bus, it wouldn’t be terrible if it hit me by accident and I died. I mean, everyone is plotting against me and would rather that I was dead. They all hate me. They all think I’m a drama queen with this bipolar disorder thing.

But of course no one is actually thinking these things. My brain deforms acts of kindness, acts of indifference, acts of the everyday into something twisted and ugly. The actions of other people are gnarled until they are unrecognizable and I question my sense of reality.

It is hard to focus on work and responsibilities when your life is a battleground and land mines are everywhere. But I persevered, because that is what I do. I survive, despite the way that I feel. I push myself into work, smile, socialize, do what is asked of me. I try even harder to appear normal. All the while I am fighting the rage, paranoia, and exhaustion. I really just want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and cry.

Drawn and quartered

I thought a Lego man was less grisly depiction of being drawn and quartered.

Perhaps I am so tenacious in this state because I have spent the last 29 years of my life being drawn and quartered. I imagine horses tied to each of my limbs and a mysterious voice yelling for the horses to pull. My limbs rip from my torso as I try and fulfill all of the demands of everyone else, rather than what I need and want.  The voice that commands the horses is constantly criticizing what I am doing and telling me what I should be doing instead, regardless of how I am feeling.

I am sitting on the couch and it asks, “Why aren’t you at the gym?”

“Because I’m tired from fighting my fucking life.” I always start out tougher than I feel. I always feel like I can argue with the voice.

“That’s no excuse,” it snaps. “You could at least be working on your novel or your blog. Isn’t that what you really want to do with your life? Write?”

“Yes, but I’m really fucking tired because this week has been really hard.”

“Hard, you don’t know what hard is. You’re a pampered princess. Do you know what’s hard? Those kids in Africa who have to walk 10 kilometers each way just to get water for their villages. That’s fucking hard.”

“I know, but -”

“You’re just lazy. You’re a useless excuse of a human. You are pathetic. You are worthless.”

And that voice usually convinces me to do something – whether it’s hit the gym, clean the house, work on my blog – even when all I really want to do is curl up and sleep because I have been battling the ghosts that paranoia brings and tampering the rage the swirls inside of me. Even though I have been doing all of these things that take incredible amounts of energy, it pushes me to deplete myself further and further.

But it wasn’t until Friday that I finally told that voice to shut the fuck up. I will write my blog post when I get to it – if I get to it. I will go to the gym next week when I have slept a solid eight hours. I will socialize when I no longer feel like everyone is against me. For now, I will sit on the couch and watch TV. And that’s okay. That’s enough. I’m enough. And surprisingly, the mood lifted just a little. If only for a little while.

Bipolar Disorder isn’t a fucking fad

An American report by the Social Security Administration (SSA) found that “one in three, or 35.2 percent of people getting federal disability insurance benefits have been diagnosed with a mental disorder.” The SSA reported that “disabled beneficiaries have increased 49.7 percent over the past decade” and the “largest ‘diagnostic group’ for disabled beneficiaries was a mental disorder.’ Moreover, not only are the majority of people who are receiving disability benefits suffering from some form of mental illness they are largely diagnosed with a mood disorder.

SSA chat on disabilities

As the pillar of journalistic integrity and high quality news reporting, Fox News Radio host, Tom Sullivan, took to the air to talk about all of these lazy bastards receiving disability benefits:

On Wednesday’s show, Tom said there are too many Americans with “mood disorders” who are gaming the system by collecting disability! He argued that many of these people can still work and support themselves.

You know, all of these people with their imaginary illnesses, like bipolar disorder, need to pull up their bootstraps and stop their parasitic sucking on the American people’s resources. You know, so we can better fund, like, the military or something.

In an attempt to educate Sullivan, Aunglee from Saramento, called in to talk about her bipolar disorder and how the benefits she receives are integral to living a healthy and happy life. I have to give Aunglee credit because she was so calm and level headed it was incredible because frankly, I lost my shit just listening to their conversation.

Media Matters for America (MMfA) transcribed the interview in full and you can listen to it there, but here’s my favourite part. Sullivan actually had the balls to tell this woman that her Bipolar Disorder is “made up” and is a “fad” perpetuated by the pharmaceutical industry:

I’m very skeptical. And I’ve got to tell you, if you haven’t been told, I will tell you. I think bipolar is like the latest fad. Everybody and their brother is getting diagnosed with bipolar. And last time I checked, we all have good days and we all have bad. And I don’t consider that an illness. And I don’t consider it a disability.

Condescending WonkaBipolar Disorder isn’t some Hollywood trend like juicing or detoxing. It’s a disease that psychiatrists can diagnose and treat with medication, or some people are really lucky and can manage their moods just with therapy. Bipolar Disorder is a disease that wreaks havoc on families and ends lives. Bipolar Disorder isn’t just the ups and downs of regular life. It’s not just being sad because your hamster Fluffy died. It’s wanting to drive your car off of a bridge because you’re experiencing suicidal depression. It’s not just about being happy, it’s about being so manic that you start to believe you are the second coming of Jesus Christ – but someone could totally go to work then, right?

I have bipolar disorder and have been on sick-leave for almost five months. My hypomania caused rage that made me afraid of myself and what I might do. My depression was so crippling that all I could do was cry for hours on end. If dealing with the mood fluctuations wasn’t enough, I was a guinea pig for medication adjustments that caused further intense mood swings and side effects. These medications made me dizzy, made me forgetful, made me nauseous, and gave me crippling headaches. At multiple points in my recovery I couldn’t string a sentence together, and as a writer that is something that is extremely important to me. And let’s not forget, the drowsiness. I spent almost a week sleeping because I literally couldn’t open my eyes. But it’s not a disability, right?

But Bipolar Disorder “didn’t exist 25 years ago” until Big Pharma got involved. You know, because according to Sullivan, Bipolar Disorder is “made up by the mental health business just to be able to give people prescriptions.”

Actually, 25 years ago, people with bipolar disorder were called manic depressives. The term manic depression was coined in 1899 by German psychiatrist Emil Kraeplin who developed the classification system for mental illness. The term Bipolar Disorder wasn’t used until the 1980s when the DSM-III was released, which was seen as a revolutionary text in psychiatry (DSM-III and the transformation of American psychiatry: a history). So the disease has existed for over a hundred years, but bipolar disorder is just a fad, right?

So why change the name of an illness that had existed for over 80 years? Stigma (surprise, surprise!) In the introduction to her book, Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture, Emily Martin cites a 2002 press release by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance who were changing their name from the National Depression and Manic Depression Association because, “many people are frightened by the term “manic depression” and this keeps them from contacting us for help.

I often get asked why I speak so openly about my experiences with mental health and it’s because of people like Tom Sullivan. Everyday of my life I battle against my disease. Everyday I take pills that are somewhat poisonous to my body, not because “somebody’s talked me into feeling and thinking this way” but because they are my lifeline. They are literally the only way I can function like an average person and even then I have mood blips that aren’t “normal” (whatever that means).

So before you start to discredit someone’s lived experience with mental illness, maybe you should shut up and listen. Or, at least read a book.