Old and Greats

11 Oct

Old and Greats

They tell you to just bleed on the page,

all those old and greats,

as if we still had the time to dig at our wrists

with their sharp-cut fountain pens,

as if we still had ink like that.

But we don’t patch our trousers anymore

or wear scuffed shoes

because our shoes aren’t made

of that kind of material anymore;

we hide our wear and tear now.

Rhetoric isn’t an art like it used to be,

and we spend too much time hiding our bruises

to remember how to properly wrap a wound

once we have let it bleed

and bleed

and bleed

all over that godforsaken fucking blood-soaked paper

that all those old and greats

told us would be our salvation.

They all went crazy, you know.

Wonder we are too.

One More Month

9 Oct

I went to the desert and did not see a Blood Moon,

only the end of an eclipse, subtle as my waning sanity

with both of them blowing over dust.

Sand and detritus, that’s all they shine light on,

and some hills in the distance

that I know I’m going to have to drive through again.

Once you go over you have to come back,

that’s the only way to have gotten somewhere.

Make it back to town again

and the full orb’s back to full bright,

just like nothing ever happened

‘cept for one more month gone by.

And you didn’t even know they were crazy.

5 Oct source: http://supportwindsofchange.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/i-am-a-person.png

This week, October 5-11, we take a break from our *regularly scheduled programming, Depression Awareness Month,* for a tribute to all other brain fuckery with *this brief interruption, Mental Illness Awareness Week.*

If you’ve read the post before this one, “Depression Is,” you know some of my thoughts on the whole “awareness” bid. I have some bitterness, but for those who really have no clue about the fight that over a quarter of the globe is fighting with themselves, I think being bludgeoned about the head with some PSA’s in an attempt to wake them up is a good thing, at least as a start.

Something that I’ve learned from having my own slew of brain troubles and subsequently finally talking about them, with psychologist-type-peoples and random-strangers-on-the-street-types, is that these mental illnesses that we’ve got running around in our minds, they’re more pervasive than I would have thought. They’re insidious creatures, secret diseases. People don’t like talking about them, because we’ve somehow managed to stamp a stigma on this apparently basic and rampant human experience. So mental illnesses, and people with them, they can be everywhere, and you wouldn’t even notice. Strangers. Friends. Even yourself.

Let’s take a look at some surprising literary and pop characters with whom a lot of you are probably very, very familiar – but might not have known are, in fact, crazy.

1. The Cast of the Hundred Acre Wood

2. The Muppets Your Kids Spend Hours A Week Watching And Learning From

3. Charlie Brown and His Gang

Charlie Brown - Avoidant Personality Disorder (image source)

Charlie Brown – Avoidant Personality Disorder (image source)

Linus - Schizotypal Personality Disorder (image source)

Linus – Schizotypal Personality Disorder (image source)

Lucy - Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissism (image source)

Lucy – Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissism (image source)

So. We’ve got the Christopher Robin and his stuffed, furry friends; all the puppet neighbors of Sesame Street; and Charlie Brown and his club of kiddos. All of them mentally ill, in some way or other. Every. single. one.

And hey! Look! Their worlds don’t fall apart! They don’t all kill each other or blow each other up or any of that! Those three story lines, they’re stories of kids and their friends helping each other get by, supporting and teasing and loving and making good choices and fucking up, just every other normal kid narrative. Because while “mental illness” may sometimes pull us into a world of our own, it doesn’t shove us into some non-human dimension, away from all the “normal” people.

I mean, functionally, dealing with some mental illnesses is simpler than dealing with oh, say, arthritis, or diabetes or even a broken finger. We are all people, dealing with people shit. Let’s stop making each other feel like we’re somehow weird just because our brain instead of our arteries and their fat content are involved, or whatever.

Welcome to the world, land of people who dreamt up Christopher Robin and Charlie Brown and Big Bird. Welcome to the world, where Christopher Robin and Charlie Brown and Big Bird are all perceived as normal, valuable, understandable people. (Or normal, valuable, understandable feathered puppets, as the case may be.)

Those of us with mental illnesses, we are not non-player characters, here. We are protagonists. Fucked up heroes and heroines, just like the rest of you. Not villains. Not ghosts.

We’re all around you, and might not even have known we were here.

Now that‘s kind of crazy, isn’t it?

Depression Is

1 Oct

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Today, October 1st, is the start of Depression Awareness Month. Well, for those of the social media sphere who’ve had no contact with depression, it is. The rest of us, the ones with depression, and the ones next to those who do, we’re already pretty damn aware.

You see, depression, when it’s there, is a hard thing not to be aware of. The harder part, really, is not misconstruing what’s being seen. Because depression, you see, has a whole lot of flavors. And no, none of them are pumpkin spice.

I’ve been fighting depression since… well, it’s hard to pinpoint it, really. Because I came from an environment where people weren’t aware of mental health, let alone depression. I didn’t know anything could be wrong, let alone that it was. I just thought that my constant misgiving, the vague and perpetual sensation that something was wrong for years on end, my bent to remember the less-than-stellar in my life than the few moments of real sparkle – well, I just thought that was normal. I was aware of my sensations; I just wasn’t aware of their diagnosis.

Until my senior year of high school, that is. After years of walking the line between “kinda sad but functional” and “ragingly falling into a dark hole inside,” I finally teetered over the edge. Call it hormones. Call it stress. Call it whatever.

I’m calling it depression.

You see, while I was aware of my accelerating and nauseating hurtle into clinical depression, the others around me didn’t see all those sensations inside, or didn’t want to see them even when I tried to throw them in their face. I used isolation. I used words. I used self-harm and the knife I hid under my bed. I used suicide. The increasingly screaming kettle of pressuring self-hate inside me was something too loud for me not to be aware of, as day after day I just felt wrong, and, left to my own devices to deal with it, eventually came to the conclusion that must have been the thing that was wrong. Guilt guilt guilt guilt. Never mind those other circumstances – a broken home, an ailing sister, a fracturing best friend, flat-out broken brain chemistry – no no, clearly it was all my fault. I just wasn’t trying hard enough. If I were just better, trying harder, I would have been able to fix it all. And then I would have been okay. So clearly, I was the problem. Hey, if I were the problem, then the solution seemed pretty damn apparent, right? In this equation, if X is wrong and unfixable, just remove X…

I wasn’t aware that wasn’t actually the equation.

Let’s fast-forward about six years. So you know, about nowish. I’ve still got depression. But I’m older, wiser, yada yada.

Yeah, it doesn’t suck any less.

If anything, dealing with depression, even though it’s not the blinding, numbing, mind-haze of my high school years, has become harder. Why?

Well, I am more aware.

Let’s fast-track through the past six years. I found words for what I was experiencing. Slowly learned that it’s not my fault. Went to therapy, through treatment, started meds. I’ve seen psychiatrists, psychologists, MFW’s, LCSW’s, PsyD’s, MD’s, RD’s, and fuck knows however many lettered people. After four years of concentrated obliteration, I’ve finally essentially quashed my comorbidity, the ugly Eating Disorder.

But.

There is always a “but,” isn’t there?

I’m not sure I consider myself “better.”

I have learned a great deal, yes. Become more aware of what’s going on with me. I’ve learned how to recognize patterns, spot symptoms, reroute maladaptive coping mechanisms, derail negative thought patterns, notice when my current round of meds are starting to fail again.

Yes, in the mindwork of my depression, self-awareness has helped a shit ton. At least I know what’s going on now.

Yeah, knowing what’s going on doesn’t mean I feel any better.

It’s like… so, imagine if you were shot in the leg with a bullet. Painful, right? You’re bleeding all over the place, leg is throbbing, bullet’s probably still lodged somewhere around your tibia and fibula. If only you could pull the bullet out and adequately wrap up the wound, over time, it would heal, and you would feel better.

Yeah, bullet’s still in your leg and your bleeding out, sweetheart. This mental analysis, even knowing how physiologically your leg needs to heal, that all doesn’t actually make you feel any better when you’ve still just been FUCKING SHOT IN THE LEG.

My depression, now, is kind of like I’m walking around having just been shot in the leg all the time. Yeah, I know what happened to cause me to be in pain. I know what’s going on. I know that hey, maybe one week my psychiatrist and I will finally find a way to pull that goddamn bullet out of my leg and the writhing muscles and nerves and blood vessels will finally stop having to make due with a shitty, bloody situation and heal up once and for all and start working properly again.

Yeah, all that “maybe” kind of hope doesn’t mean I’m not walking around with a fucking bite of a limp.

“But you’re working on figuring out how to get the bullet out!” People will say, as if this is supposed to mean it’s not still painful while it’s in there.

“Aw, come on, you were shot like five weeks ago, can’t you just let it go now?” NO, THE BULLET’S STILL FUCKING THERE AND I’M BLEEDING OUT AND IT’S FUCKING PAINFUL, THANK YOU.

And then, should I manage to find a position to stand where the weight’s not on my leg, and it doesn’t hurt so much, and someone makes a funny joke and I manage to pull up a half-sort of smile – “Oh look! A smile! That bullet in your leg can’t hurt that badly then, can it?”

Excuse me, clinic doctor that I visit a couple weeks ago for a sinus infection, while I punch you in the face.

So, I walk around, bullet-in-leg, never knowing if it’ll ever come out, leaving the situation to fester and fall into feeling hopelessness. I wonder if maybe, instead of walking around in life with this limp that I can remember what it was like to run and skip and dance without, instead of always being reminded that if I’m not cautious my heel will slip and my leg will jolt with pain, which it wouldn’t have had I still had that life unencumbered with a bullet in my calf – well, I start wonder if maybe, it would be better if I just cut the leg off. If I can’t pull the bullet out and let the leg heal, then I just need to get rid of the leg altogether.

Problem is, the issue’s not in my leg. It’s in my brain.

Suicidality is no longer an impassioned, pained sort of self-destructive urge. The thought becomes not “I am a problem” but just “I am not working out.” It’s a weary sort of defeat. The wish is not to be dead, but to no longer live in pain. Death, this time, is just a side-effect.

That is the kind of awareness depression has for me.

I am still here, writing this blog, obviously. I have friends that pull me back, friends whose selfish wish to keep me here for themselves is something I am grateful I can keep my life tethered to. They, thankfully, are aware of what it’s like for me to carry that bullet in my leg, and they help carry me, so that the bullet doesn’t finally make its way to my brain.

They see me, and I am grateful for it.

What do you need to be aware of, around you? In you?

As despondent as I may get about my own prospects, I wish hope eternal for everyone else with those goddamn depression bullets. It’s not fair, guys. It’s just not. And I’m sorry about that. I hope that one day, we have better, more effective options than chasing after “maybe’s” or translocating where that bullet is.

It’s a fight, guys. I know we’re all way too painfully aware of that. But hey, if we’re still here and trying, at least we’ve given the world something to notice, too.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Loneliness Hits

30 Sep

Loneliness is a rough sort of rolled-up burning-down summary of life to take a hit of. It’s the kind of hit that leaves you not just coughing so badly you wind up in tears, but somehow proves a bruise-leaver too, on more than just your throat. Loneliness hits that way.

Loneliness is the worst of drags that I cannot seem to ever figure out how to choke down and tolerate. I guess my ears get a little weird, when I’ve sucked down loneliness. I go deaf for a bit, so I can’t even hear the noises of the ones around me. All I can hear is the inside of my brain, and that’s only filled with the noises of people who aren’t any longer here.

It’s a bad trip, loneliness.

The psychiatrists and psychologists, they say it will pass. That we’ll find me an antidote, and I will stop choking on the very air around me as this unending ember of a stick of loneliness dangles from my fingers, unable to be removed. This next set of pills, they say. This next glass of water. This next deep breath.

I’ve taken many a deep breath in my life; loneliness is an insidious pollution, and the smog count grows ever higher. That’s the rub – you breathe in to breathe out what you breathed in, but if there’s no change in air quality, your red blood cells only learn all the more to consent to carry what your heady environment has stuck upon life’s circulation.

Even tears can’t flush it out.

Maybe one day a little white circle will clear all this away.

Maybe one day a fire will burn hot enough to immolate this slow-killing haze.

Maybe one day I will have exchanged all my oxygen for this grey composition, and then I will no longer notice any discrepancy in hue, and I will not remember what it was like before, and I will no longer fight to hold off this desperate coloration, because at least now, in this grey prison, I have something with which to be one.

Or maybe these are all just ramblings, too long a drag off the loneliness stick. I’m starting not to remember much. Oh look, bruises…

Missing

29 Sep
Missing

There was a time

when you and me

were a single word,

and all I heard

in the beating, fluttering earth

was the breath

of you next to me,

when my curves fit yours

because that was home.

My body’s lonely now,

now that you and me

are two different words

and I can’t hear you anywhere

in this silence,

because I don’t remember what it felt like

to hold your hand anymore,

because you decided that anymore,

you didn’t want to hold me.

An Open Letter to Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld at Fox News

25 Sep #HeForShe

To Mr. Eric Bolling and Mr. Greg Gutfeld,

yesterday, September 24th, you two made some foot-in-mouth – or should I say dick-in-mouth, by your language – comments about Major Mariam Al Mansouri. Was it because she is a fighter pilot? Or a freedom fighter? Or a figure for justice? How about because she’s a trail blazer? Or symbol of refusing to sit down in the face of injustice?

No. It was because Major Mariam Al Mansouri is a woman.

What’s this, you appear to have thought to yourself, the first female fighter pilot of the UAB stood up against FOX’s sworn enemy, ISIS? Well, I could comment on her bravery… or how many social prejudices she’s overcome… or how she’s such an ally for US interests… Wait, I know! Better comment on her boobs!

Or make a low-brow, uninspired joke about female driving stereotypes that would paint Major Mansouri as less capable than a male counterpart, as Mr. Gutfeld seemed to think best.

Because sexist “jokes” are totally what all your viewers were itching to hear just then, right?

Wrong.

I’d like to introduce the two of you to a little something called the HeForShe campaign, a “solidarity movement for gender equality,” as the website says.

Oh, sorry, I used some large words that you two don’t seem to be familiar with, based on your performance yesterday. Let me break it down for you.

Solidarity means that hey, feminism isn’t just for or about females. The state of women – roughly one half of the human population – is something that affects and is affected by the other half, all you male-identifying folk. So hey, how about we stand together through all this stuff instead of making half the human race grind its teeth because of your stupidity?

Movement – so, we’re not just standing. Men have had to fight for their rights – like oh, say, freedom (ring a bell?) – and have come a long way. Women, we’ve been fighting too. But, as evidenced by men of your caliber, we’ve still got a long way to go to reach equal respect, freedom, and opportunity. Major Mansouri fought against an entire culture of disapproval for her opportunities. And now that she’s taken back her own personal freedom, she’s fighting for other women – and men – from the cockpit. That’s right, men. A vulva in the cockpit. Turns out genitalia doesn’t determine whether you can fight, metaphorically and very, very literally, for something you believe in.

Gender equality is what it sounds like – not women nagging men, not men belittling women. But rather, each of us evaluating the other based on individual merit, not our degree of mammary tissue or what kind of urethral exit we’ve got going. To demonstrate this concept, I’d say a fair evaluation of what Major Mansouri has done could be called “courageous, competent, and inspiring.” As for your Wednesday behavior, I’d put it at “unintelligent, unduly crass, and ignorant.”

I’m not the only one who thinks so. This is not some “feminazi” rant over a trivial matter. I am not some hormone-crazed female who “can’t take a joke.” No, I am justified in my outrage at your blatant and blind perpetuation not just of sexism, but of rape culture too. Your behavior treats a woman as if her body is fair game. As if the very fact that she is female makes her an acceptable target for jokes, for disparagement, for verbal undressing, for whatever your male mind may damn well please, really. But if Major Mansouri had been a man, would you have made comments about his bombing aligning it with his ball sack? Or his dick? I mean, you would have had a ready “joystick” joke right there. Would you have demeaned his skills as a soldier by saying that oh hey, he must not clean up as well on the bombing field because everyone knows that women do the household chores? Would you immediately jump to verbally jostling his sexual parts as a “joke,” instead of properly saluting this soldier who is fighting as an ally on your side for an entire fucking people’s freedom? No?

Then I think, sirs, that you have a problem.

You have several solutions before you. Heforshe.org has several to recommend. Personally, I’d advise issuing an apology. And no, not some flimsy sham of a guilt admission. I – and I suspect other men and women too – want remorse. We want acknowledgment of your ignorance and ill intention when you made those comments. We want recognition of your underlying prejudices. And we demand concrete measures for change.

Because if that does not happen – well then gentleman, if you will not remove your foot from your mouth, then perhaps it is time to get your dick out of the seat. Fox News obviously needs more female anchors anyway.

Sincerely,
Miceala Shocklee

———–

Let Eric Bolling, Gerg Gutfeld, and the rest of Fox News know that sexist comments like these are not only distasteful, but dangerous. Tweet this page’s url to the anchors and their channel, or leave a message for them on Facebook. Feel free to copy and past the letter above and add your own signature, or write your own message.

@ericbolling
https://www.facebook.com/EricBolling

@greggutfeld
http://ggutfeld.com/contact/
https://www.facebook.com/ggutfeld

The Five:
https://www.facebook.com/TheFiveFNC

Show support for the Kim Guilfoyle, who brought of the story and condemned her colleagues’ remarks on air.

@kimguilfoyle
https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyGuilfoyle
http://kimberlyguilfoyle.com/contact/

sample message:
Thank you, Ms. Guilfoyle, for deciding to highlight such a courageous female in our day and age as Major Mansouri. I support you in how you wanted to spin the story, and I condemn the comments that Mr. Bolling and Mr. Gutfeld made. Thank you for immediately calling them out on it and letting them know that their behavior was unacceptable. I thank you for your efforts and hope that you will keep standing up for women everywhere, beginning with yourself.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 186 other followers