Interview with Amanda Brumfield / Very Zen
Have you met Amanda B.? At Very Zen, Amanda talks about pretty much everything, including sensitive subjects such as her history with depression and anxiety and how she deals with them. She’s funny and witty and clever.
Amanda and her husband have spent the past year wading through bureaucracy up to their armpits trying to recover from Katrina. Their home is getting closer and closer to being done, just in time for this year’s wonderful storm season. There have been other hardships as well over the past year, and you might expect someone in her position to be mostly, rightfully and out of necessity, focused on herself. But in Amanda’s case, you’d be wrong. She spends her days helping people with their medical claims and often goes above and beyond the call of duty. Case in point would be Chester as well as various animals found in the wild that need a good home and nursing back to health.
When you read Very Zen, you understand very clearly how much she cares – just genuinely cares. And you feel it loud and clear. When you read between the lines, you see how big her heart really is.
In the ‘Also’ category, Amanda writes and sings songs in the bathroom and has met Chewbacca.
January 31, 2005
Why do you blog?
To get a little right-brain activity back into my life. I’m a very abstract/random person with a 9 to 5 desk job and blogging helps me to keep in touch with my creative side. It keeps me calm- much like playing music does. .
What do you talk about?
I think my blog is a great representation of the way my brain functions. I talk about whatever pops into my head, whatever I’m feeling the need to express in the moment. I tend to go from one subject to another and the movement is often fairly incoherent. People seem to relate to my thoughts and feelings and respond to the way that I write, so I haven’t felt the need to regiment or change the flow of VeryZen. That’s one of the aspects of blogging that I love- I get to be the stripped down version of myself and enjoy the way people relate to that.
What don’t you talk about? Why?
There are personal issues that I don’t address out of respect for others. I try to steer clear of any serious subject matter pertaining to my marriage or my family and if I do write about it, I keep it as ambigious as possible.
I try to steer clear of certain political issues, although I have really enjoyed the political dialouge that has taken place on VeryZen. I’ve tried to create an atmosphere where liberals and conservatives can share their opinions and not be judged and ridiculed. More often than not, I’ve found that people are more alike than they think and that there really is common ground for us all to stand on. That being said, there are some topics that I avoid like the plague because I think that their very nature is to exaggerate the rift between the parties.
Worst/best experience regarding something you wrote in your blog or put out on the net?
The best experience I’ve had has been the number of people I’ve found who are genuinely kind and sincere when commenting on my blog. There are just so many good folks out there, people who are willing to help those in need, who are open to sharing their own experiences, who don’t see themselves as anything special- but have helped me more than I can express. I feel really lucky to have met so many people with such huge hearts.
The worst has probably been dealing with people out there on the net who are seemingly malignant and cruel. Several times, I’ve had to take a long hard look at the blog and decide if I wanted to continue. If I’m going to put my personal stories and opinions out there, I have to expect some negative feedback. It’s just a part of the equation.
Favorite/worst thing about living where you live?
I love the easy, laid back atmosphere of the South. Also the cost of living is fabulous. Scott and I have been discussing a move, but when we look at the cost of housing in other areas we aren’t able to justify the expense.
The worst part of living in the South is the god-awful, sticky, mosquito infested, please kill me now, why doesn’t Jesus love me- HEAT..It is so hot here during the Summer that all you can think about is being somewhere else.
If you were president of the US:
I would make a terrible president. I care way to much about what other people think of me. Also I don’t really enjoy behaving like a responsible adult. But if in theory I wasn’t a neurotic lunatic, I would do everything in my power to protect the rights of people all over the world.
I have experienced some backlash mostly consisting of people informing me that I’m trying to copy other bloggers who suffer from depresison. It’s silly really, but I have to admit that it has bothered me a good bit because living with depression has been such a deeply personal and terrifying experience. Other than those few accusations I’ve only received support and encouragement.
I suppose I never really considered my depression as being a private issue. I don’t see it as being any different than talking about having diabetes or any other ailment, but I suppose that it is different in that it is a mental illness. There is still so much misunderstanding and false information out there concerning depression and other illnesses, I’m sort of taken aback by it at times. It helps me to write about my struggles with depression and in doing so I hope to help others suffering with the illness. I’d also love to educate as many people as possible about the effects of depression on the individual and the family, as well as provide an accurate depiction of mental illnesses and those who suffer from them.
I’ve always coped using several sure-fire methods: escape, therapy, medication, exercise. Of course escapism is not the healthiest option, but it has served its purpose in my life. I’ve used drugs, food, sex, and disassociation in the past to help me deal with the pain of my illness. I can honestly say that while these options are not the best methods coping, there have been times when they saved my life. I think I would tell any severly depressed person that if the options are a)a jelly filled doughnut, b) a few drinks, or c) walking out in front of a truck- go for a or b.
I have been lucky enough to find healthier methods of controlling my disease. I’m on a wonderful antidepressant, Lexapro*, and have felt such an amazing difference in my ability to see things clearly and to feel a sense of relief and peace. I exercise regularly, see a therapist once a week, try to eat right and get enough rest. I do things that I enjoy and I give myself permission to relax. Most of all I have accepted my depression for what it is and I am willing to do the things necessary to take care of myself. I am committed to keeping my disease in remission.
What actor would play you in the movie of your life?
Abe Vigoda, no question.
What do you do to stay sane and healthy?
I get up early in the morning and drink coffee. I take naps in the afternoon whenever I’m able. I work in my garden. I snuggle with my husband. I am a huge fan of therapy and of talking out my problems. I try to get things off my chest and not harbor resentment or anger. I make an effort to be kind to others while not forgetting to be kind to myself. I listen to the rock and roll music.
Tell me about Chester and what you’ve learned.
Chester is a terminally ill client of mine who was until recently being cared for by his 82 year old mother. I helped them as much as I could and then realized that the help they needed was beyond my means. After some consideration, I asked my readers to donate to Chester and his mother and boy did they! I think in the end the total of all the donations was close to $2000.00. It was amazing, and allowed Chester to live in peace until I could help him get into a nursing home.
I learned during this process that people want to and are willing to help total strangers, to give freely of themselves, to make someone else’s life better. These folks didn’t just talk smack, they took action and in doing so changed two lives. I was truly humbled by the entire experience.
Red meat- medium well
When you were 10, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I have always wanted to be a rock star. I don’t mean in the traditional sense- the money, the drugs, the fame- I mean I have always wanted to fucking rock. I admired and emulated artists like Janis Joplin, The Clash, Neil Young, Freddie Mercury, Springsteen, Mark Knopfler, Jeff Buckley– musicians who didn’t give a damn if they were pretty- when they were on stage they put their balls into it and gave everything they had to their music. They all wrote and produced music, played a half dozen instruments, and when they walked on stage and the lights came up they transformed the air around them into something better- something sweet and tangable. I didn’t just want to play and sing, I wanted to be that good.
You work with people every day that need so much. Do you have trouble staying emotionally full and in a place to be able to help them and feel compassionate?
Wow, that’s an amazingly intuitive question. Before I started this line of work I worked in a drug and alcohol treatment center for several years, and learned a lot about detachment. I eventually had to move on from that job, because it was too emotionally draining but I’ve been able to find a nice balance with my current job. I’m in a situation now where if I do my job well I can help people to drastically improve their quality of life. I stay focused on the goal and am able to be empathetic without getting emotionally attached to my clients. Mostly.
What do you hate?
Contractors, hurricanes, anal itching , Tom Cruise, my weird alien nostrils(note from leahpeah – her nostrils are actually quite charming), anxiety, racism, and bullies.
What do you love?
My husband, Starbuck’s Triple Venti Mocha, Star Wars, rock music, gay boys, Austin, Texas, my guitar, and working in my garden.
What do you want to tell other bloggers, if anything?
I don’t think I’ve been around long enough to impart much advice. The only thing I think I would want to say is that I think that we as bloggers have a unique opportunity to do a lot of good. I would love to see us bloggers become more of a worldwide community.
Astounding facts about you:
I can eat a 14 oz ribeye without batting an eye. In one sitting.
Are you Windows or Mac? Why?
Honestly? I don’t have a preference. My husband is the computer person in the family and he prefers Linux. I don’t know enough about computers to care one way or the other- basically Scott formats a box for me, I install a few programs and I’m off. I’m very unskilled and therefore low maintenance when it comes to computers.
I do love to poke fun at my Mac friends though. They are dead serious about their Apples.
How would your husband describe you?
The most proficently gymnastic piece of ass he’s ever had. No, I think that first he would say that I’m kind, loyal, brave and funny. Then I think he would add hot-headed, unfocused, fearful and hyper-sensitive. He knows me better than anyone. It’s amazing to have someone who sees you for who you really are and loves you for it. Scott provides me with ample evidence that unconditional love really does exist.
Where can I hear your music? (because, I really want to.)
That’s an excellent question. I really need to get some tracks online, but I’m super shy about it. I shall make it so, for you LeahPeah.
Do you cook?
Not on purpose. I’m not a domesticated humanoid.
Your own favorite post? And/or your favorite post of someone else?
I don’t think I have a favorite post of my own. I always feel goofy when I go back and read my own material. I have so many favorite posts I wouldn’t know where to start, but three of my favorite writers are Brandon, Sheryl, and Heather. I think these are three of the most talented humans on earth, and they inspire me and make me want to be a more open and creative person.
What is one of your favorite memories?
The day I realized that I was over my abusive ex-boyfriend. I was one of the most important days of my life.
“VeryZen is not affiliated with any political and/or religious organizations.” I was wondering, what organizations are you affiliated with?
None that I can think of at the moment. I’m a gigantic pain in the ass and have a natural aversion to people who get together in large groups and demand that they know the secrets of the universe. I’m thinking of starting an organization myself though, that will function as a vehicle for my ideas and my opinions. I think people would really benefit from seeing things my way, especially lots of people, and they could pay a fee to come and listen to me speak about my ideas for a few hours each week.
What will you being doing next year?
I will have cast my self debasing attitude aside and become the lead singer of a rock band. At first we will cover 80’s love ballads in dive bars to pay the bills.
Tell me a secret?
Sometimes, when things get tough, I sleep with a teddy bear.
What do you wish I had asked you that I didn’t?
You didn’t ask me about my super powers.
*it works great for amanda. (awesome!) it might not be the same for you. so, if you are interested in taking Lexapro, go talk to your doctor.