Good-bye, Robin. I’m Sorry.

I’m sure people will be posting ad nauseam on here about Robin William’s apparent suicide…and that’s okay.  It has occurred to me more than once how Facebook and other social media have come to play a big part in our grieving process, from sharing memories, to revelling in our loved one’s presence for just a bit longer, to sharing our grief with others…

But I just want to say one thing, and it’s about mental illness…depression….anxiety.

It’s amazing how many people do not have a full understanding of what true clinical depression and anxiety are like.  These illnesses are diagnosed now more than ever before, and I’m sure their inevitable over-diagnosis leads some people to believe they are not that serious.  True clinical depression and anxiety are not situational.  “Why are you sad?  Why are you anxious? Did something happen? Are you unhappy?” or by extension “What reason do you have to be depressed?”

As someone who suffers from both anxiety and depression since early childhood, I don’t mind answering honest questions, but I am tired of the stereotypes, and especially tired of the use of the term “mental illness” as a buzz word or scapegoat for every dirtbag that would walk into a school with a gun and blow through a clip before shooting himself, thus putting us out of his misery.

This, what happened to Robin Williams, is the true face of mental illness in this country.  For me personally, having grown up always with this man in the periphery, his voice talents, his acting, always with good cheer and humor, (not to mention the fact that he reminds me of my Dad in some ways,) the idea that someone so warm and (by all accounts) genuine and caring, felt low enough to take his own life is unutterably sad.

Yes, he left behind a wife and grown children who will grieve him, but he didn’t take it to a public place with the intent to harm others or to garner attention or fifteen minutes more in the spot light.  He went quietly, and in the end the person who suffered the most was him.

Not with a bang but a whimper. 

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The Monroe Meme:They Said It First!

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And I’ve thought something along these lines every time I see one of those memes come through my Facebook feed.  Okay, not exactly in those wordsreally…just that perhaps her quotes aren’t necessarily “words to live by,” when considered within the scope of her many insecurities, mistakes, and less-than-admirable traits.  While I would not call her a whore, it is considered pretty much general knowledge that she carried on affairs with a very married President of the United States (and later after being rejected by him, with his brother.) In fact, it is said she became somewhat obsessed with the Prez, although he seemed to view her as not much more than a very pretty notch on his proverbial bedpost.  But I am referring to more than just her sexual proclivities and questionable relationships.

[By]1956 …she’d begun to lose herself to self-doubt, depression, drugs, and alcohol.

[Her] mother and maternal grandparents had all struggled with mental illness and institutionalization, [and she] began taking sleeping pills for her insomnia. She regularly consulted psychiatrists. She drank heavily, and began a habit of arriving late to work, and sometimes not being able to work at all.

In short, she was kind of a basketcase.  To top it all off (no pun intended,) she ended her career and life early with an intentional overdose of barbiturates.  The image I get of her is a woman who was trying to make her way and own her sexuality in a largely male dominated industry.  However there seemed to be a dichotomy between the part of her that relished her sexuality and the power it gave her, and part of her still felt objectified and dependent on men.

 “People had a habit of looking at me as if I were some kind of mirror instead of a person. They didn’t see me, they saw their own lewd thoughts, then they white-masked themselves by calling me the lewd one.”

“Please don’t make me a joke.  End the interview with what I believe. I don’t mind making jokes, but I don’t want to look like one.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to crap on her memory; I rather like her.  I’m not even trying to pass judgment on her chasing a married man, even allegedly pulling that huge mistress party foul and calling his wife.  I’m not passing judgment on her drug use, and definitely not her depression.  I’m not even saying the fact of these things invalidates her ideas…  If anything, it makes her very “human.”  I am just not sure that when people quote her for her empowered and self-actualized feminine ideology, they realize all the ways in which she was not necessarily “role model” material, especially not for young women just coming into their sexuality (not to mention the emotional upheaval of adolescence . ) 

 ” I’m very definitely a woman and I enjoy it.”

” I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.”

” If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.”

” Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”

(source)

Admittedly, many of her quotes do seem empowered and self-actualized.  But the fact of her downward spiral and consequent suicide seems to indicate that all her self-actualization and pragmatic ideas on the ways of the world were not enough to save her from her inner demons.

Rest in peace, Norma Jean…

It’s A Beautiful Day

Days like this have a strange effect on me.  It’s beautiful: about sixty five degrees, bright, breezy.  The pretty little weeds that look like tiny flowers are all over the grass.  Birds are chirping loudly in the trees.  Weather like this, days like this, make me feel energized and uplifted.

photo credit: jennahsgarden.com/

photo credit: jennahsgarden.com

And yet they also make me feel nostalgic and strangely bitter-sweet.  The sights, the sounds, the feel and smell of the breeze drifting in my open window– are all like ghosts of my childhood, sneaking into the house of my mind through my five senses.  It’s subtle, because there’s not necessarily any one specific memory.  It’s more like a general and pervasive mood.  And it’s slightly depressing.

There’s some truth in the saying “You can’t go home again.”  I’ve thought about it before; in terms of my family, I can never go back to being that little girl that didn’t know that Uncle Jimmy* was an alcoholic or that Uncle Mark* used to beat Aunt Maggie up.  I can’t go back to being the little girl that picked violets in my grandmother’s huge backyard; that house was sold many, many years ago and my grandma died last May.

I’ll be 32 next month and sometimes I feel like my college and high school days were just yesterday.  Today I was outside watching my toddler run around in the grass.

It’s scary.  I blinked and got “old.”  What if I blink again and my daughter is grown up?  Blink once more and I’m old and about to die?  Maudlin thoughts like these remind me of my preteen days.  These thoughts are like a throwback to the confused kid I used to be, the one who stood looking out the window, with a vague feeling of seemingly no origin, a feeling of “something’s not right”– It was a time when my thoughts were often ruled by a nameless anxiety I didn’t understand.  I was preoccupied with the passage of time and how untenable it was.

And though I’m medicated and therefore better at being the master of my anxieties and fears, rather than the slave, it’s still something I think about.  And days like this seem to bring those feelings back in a very nonspecific, formless sport of way, almost more like an association than a complete thought.

But no amount of worrying or melancholy will change these things.  Time passes, things change, people grow old and die.  The best I can do is live every moment and live in the moment.  And today is a beautiful moment to live.

Bah! Humbug! Homesick for the Holidays

Ah, the smell of BBQ, like a campfire in the fall.  My Peppermint Patty coffee creamer.  The joys of experiencing the holiday through my toddler’s eyes…

The ridiculous crowds at Walmart, the rude drivers, the stress of not having enough money to buy groceries, let alone presents…

Oh, and it’s currently 69 degrees outside.  Bah! Humbug!

But all of this I could handle if I didn’t feel so down and out.  The holidays are drawing inexorably nigh and it’s looking less and less like I’m going to make it home to see my family.  I was going to hitch a ride with my uncle in his motor home (he generously offered last year,) but he told me they had planned on taking the car this year.  This was a few weeks ago, and he said if they changed their minds, of course we could ride with them…  But it’s hard enough for my husband to get time off for the holidays ahead of time, so the closer the holidays approach before we ask, the less likely he is to be allowed off of work.  Last year, as we were the only one’s whose family is almost exclusively (with the exception of my uncle) out of state, he was the only one of his coworkers who did not get to spend Christmas with his family…any of them, because the baby and I flew home by ourselves (oh, holy night…mare that I will never repeat!)  He had off Christmas of course, but as we live 800 miles away from family, one day just isn’t sufficient travel time.

If my uncle were able to take the motor home to MD this year, I’d tell Hubby to tell his boss that he was takin’ off, and tough titty said the kitty if they didn’t like it.  It’s not right.  Seems to me they could spare him for a few days, as everyone else at his job generally stays instate.

“Tough Titty…” (Tough Kitty)

It’s bad enough I only see my parents like 3 times a year now (and consequently, they only see their granddaughter 3 times a year.)  It’s killing me, and I know it’s killing my mom.

I miss my family and I want to move back home… but I also don’t want to.  Simply put, I’d only move back to MD because most of the family is there.  Frankly, I don’t like what the place has become.  I feel safer out here with the good ol’ redneck, racist, ignorant, fat hillbillies than I would back home where I’d fear getting mugged going to the freakin’ Wawa.  I realize part of this is perception, and that there is crime everywhere…  but according to my perception, it seems like the people out here are more ignorant than actually malicious.  Prime example; last year, in my home state, a guy I went to school with was stabbed to death in his own apartment when a seventeen year old hood broke in to steal the gun my classmate had for home protection.  Did I mention he knew the kid from around the neighborhood?  Did I also mention this guy was legally blind?  Who the fuck stabs a blind guy?

But back to the point, suffice it to say this conflict of feeling is causing me some distress…

Were we to magically discover hubby had the time off of work, thus allowing us the opportunity to drive ourselves home, then there’s the question of the $300 dollars in gas we’d likely need to get there– one way.  Would our POS Explorer even make it that far?

Assuming we’re grounded and we just have to accept it, how now am I going to afford to get everyone I want to gifts?  Our parents usually understand if we can’t afford to get them anything, but I like to buy for my sisters, and then their are my nieces and nephews, and my best friend’s kids, and my cousin’s kid…

Obviously I am not the first person to observe with no small trace of irony that this holiday is not supposed to be this stressful.

Yet I feel blue, and despite what I intellectually know and what I would tell others in my position, I feel like I deserve a big lump of coal in my stocking for not being able to give my family, and most importantly, my child, the things I want to be able to give them this holiday season.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  That’s not what the holiday is about, if they really care about us, they’ll understand, and all the baby needs is love…

So why do I still feel like a giant, disappointing piece of crap?

Bah! Humbug!

Being a Mom has Turned Me into a Total Wimp!

I was not born to be a mother.  I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a princess in a castle and marrying a prince.  I didn’t spend a lot of time cradling babydolls, and I didn’t play house all that often.  I had Barbies for awhile, but they were oversexed weirdos.  In fact, by the time I was about ten years old, my make believe games often had aspects that were distinctly weird.  When my cousin and I would hang out, we’d pretend we were a bickering old vagrant couple and we’d speak continuously in cockney English accents (it used to really flip my mother out). Continue reading

In Chains: music and drug addiction

In the wake of yet another music icon lost to a suspected drug overdose (Whitney Houston), I’d like to say a few words.  There’s no way I can pay tribute to all of the great musicians, actors, comedians, and entertainers that have had a tremendous influence or personal impacts on our lives and have been lost to drug and alcohol abuse.  Also, celebrities aside, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that probably almost anyone that reads this has known someone who they lost to either drug overdose or complications from past drug use. I know I have…several.

Another reason I’m not going to mention all of the artists lost over the years is because frankly (and I know this may be an extremely unpopular opinion/statement) I don’t really identify with or care about all of them.  This is not to say that I feel that anyone should overdose and die on drugs, but they did not all have the same effect on my life.  The two people I will mention here today struck a chord with me in particular and this is why…

Continue reading