“The vision of World Bipolar Day is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and to eliminate social stigma.”
Although this is specific to bipolar, it also addresses stigma for all people with mental illness. Most of us suffer from stigma in one way or another, and a community can help tremendously.
You are not alone.
There are many resources for you, so many people who have dedicated their lives to keep you safe and to educate those who are not dealing with mental illness.
Don’t forget self-care. What do you enjoy? What makes you smile and feel good? Can you get out and take a walk? Read a good book? Make some art? Enjoy a giant collection of a mouthless white kitty that makes you so happy you nearly burst when you get a new one?
If it is too much right now, and you are past the point of activities making you happy, here are some additional links for you.
You are not alone.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Now, I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea, I acknowledge this and have seen people respond poorly to it before but, well…
Let’s set this up. A friend posted a picture on Facebook that was unpleasant. I responded as I do, a comment that was so over the top, so fantastically inappropriate, it did not occur to me that someone would take it seriously.
Someone took it seriously.
Now, I don’t know this person, nor does she know me. Rather than give me the benefit of the doubt and ask what I meant, I was attacked with burning poison darts right out of the gate.
Shocking no one, there was no discussion to be had.
This woman decided I was evil incarnate (seriously, she called me evil) and in a block of text ripped apart my character, motives, and worth as a person. I suggested that might just be a bad idea, with a reminder that she had no idea if I was in a serious depression and if that might be the last straw to cause me to take the 15-minute stroll to the Golden Gate Bridge.
A laughing face reaction and a “Poke” were my replies. Did you know that Facebook still has a “Poke” thing? Neither did I.
She made a fine point that she was 70. She’s 20 years older than me, and therefore I have no voice? Something like that. She was sputtering by that time.
My point is simply this, you don’t know what’s in a person’s heart. You cannot read their mind. If an offhanded comment hits you the wrong way and your response is to go on a spittle-spewing, hate-filled, character destroying attack, maybe it’s time to go ahead and glance at oneself in the mirror. Maybe a response that is juuuuuust a tad over the top is trying to tell you to look inside, instead of ascribing hideous motives to someone you know nothing about.
This brings me to triggered. Like so many other things that started off with good intentions, this has become a means for some to behave as our not-at-all-irrational 70-year-old did. To expect the world to cater to their specific issue or pain, for the world to be sensitive to them or they’ll be hell to pay. Something there seems kind of incongruous to me.
The likelihood that I would have been in a depression is good, the way the world is, a recent death in the family, I well could have been unable to handle such an attack. What if I had taken that walk? Why am I not afforded the same consideration she demands?
Well, because she was triggered. Because I hit something deep inside her and she lashed out. I get that intellectually, but it doesn’t excuse it.
Now, I was not in a depression, and I just found the exchange surreal and annoying. I tried to explain my joke, explain gallows humor, but that just made her angrier.
Triggered is being misused. It is not meant to be cover for potentially dangerous behavior.
It was meant to be a tool for healing oneself. Someone says something, it hits a button, I get triggered. OK, I get to a safe place, and I try to examine why that statement hit me so hard. What should I be looking at? What should I work on, speak to gently, and try to heal?
What is the triggering trying to tell me, about me?
What I said was from the way that I cope, the way I survive, I was not setting out to hurt anyone. Her comment, on the other hand, was intended to hurt me, was intentionally vicious. There was simply no discussing it. I am evil, and she is the victim.
Oh, it’s not real easy right now to give the benefit of the doubt, I get that. Nerves are frayed, tempers on edge, and patience is wearing real thin.
But this is all the more reason to practice kindness whenever you can. Smile at someone in passing now and then, say something nice to someone, anything at all. Tell your best friend you are going to bake brownies for them and wrap them up with a Hello Kitty plushy. Hypothetically.
But try, really hard, to keep that hair-trigger venom in your pocket.
I hope this woman is able to see and address these unknown issues, I really do. But they are not my issues, and my voice is not going to be silent on the chance that something I say will hit someone the wrong way. My humor is my humor, my voice is my voice.
OK, I love the show Family Guy (and The Orville is the only Star Trek on TV right now, and if someone can get this to Seth McFarlane tell him he has a group of geeks who will forever be grateful for that show.) Anyway, Family Guy sets out to offend just about everybody at one point or another. For the most part, I think it’s hilarious, but there was one little throw-away that got to me.
It’s one of the cut-aways he does. Margo Kidder comes to dinner and then is depicted as going “crazy” screaming and gibbering, flailing her arms around and leaping out the window.
For those who don’t know, Margo Kidder was bipolar. She was homeless for a time, lost everything, and died very young. I am also bipolar, so this hit me hard. I actually had to turn the channel to regroup. I was angry, how dare he make fun of her! How dare he make light of mental illness! Fuck that guy!
After I calmed down it occurred to me, I think “Prom Night Dumpster Baby” is hilarious. I expect that song hits some people very badly. I think it’s damn funny.
So how is my pain greater than someone who had a miscarriage, or stillbirth? I cannot imagine a worse pain, I cannot imagine being in that position and seeing cartoon babies swinging around their umbilical cords like canes as they dance. To their eyes and hearts, that must be unspeakable.
But I thought it was hilarious.
Not because I have no sympathy for them, I have a dear friend who lost her little baby. It just struck me as funny. But I totally understand someone else hating it.
As I hated the Margo Kidder bit. I hated that with every fiber of my being.
But do I think Seth McFarlane is a heartless asshole? Actually, I have no idea, he might be. But I know that that bit hurt because it is specific to me and my pain. But my pain is not worth more than people offended by any other of the thousand inappropriate bits in Family Guy.
The point is, I don’t know. I don’t know if he’s doing these things to be hurtful or if he’s just super juvenile and dark like me. I don’t know his intention or his heart, all I do know is that he’s smokin’ hot…sorry, trailed off there.
Taking it back to the woman in question, she intended to hurt me. She was attacking based on no information and was not interested in getting it. She didn’t listen when I tried to explain it, she didn’t have an ounce of compassion when I told her I well could be suicidal, all that mattered was that she was offended and hurt and seemingly thrilled to have someone to unload on. My husband and I refer to that as sitting on the edge of your chair in cat-like readiness hoping to be offended. Offended as a drug, as a shield, the opportunity to be better than, more righteous than, more adult, (I’ll give her that one, I am shockingly immature.)
If I can offer a takeaway, it would be this. If you are offended by something, if you are “triggered,” please use it as an opportunity to look inward and see why. Maybe you can sit with it, embrace it, speak to it softly, and try to heal it.
Come back after you calm down and ask if you can talk about it. Maybe you get rejected, maybe not. But you tried to be heard.
I know one way you will not be heard, and that’s when you call someone you don’t know evil. That’s likely to shut down any consideration for you.
One last thing, in all of the interwebs someone reading this must know Seth McFarlane. Just sayin’.
I live in an older building, built in 1927, which has its quirks and issues. Recently while doing some repairs, the plumbers found the pipes are not up to code, so parts of walls in every apartment have been slowly torn apart to fix it.
One of those is in what’s called the “butler’s pantry,” the small space between the kitchen and the dining room. There’s a built-in hutch and decals of crows and branches on the walls. We like the spooky. (We got this place on pure luck – a hand-me-down from a friend. I always feel compelled to point that out.)
We also love history. This building has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s called that because it “bridges” the Golden Gate, just a fun fact for you. The people who lived here then could watch it being built.
I would love to see an inside photo of the apartment from around that time. I would love to see how people in 1927 and thereabouts decorated, how they lived, what was new and trendy. I want to know what it looked like, but finding these photos has proven impossible so far. So we painted and decorated it to reflect my beloved 19th Century instead, with additions like a TV and penicillin, and I am left to daydream.
One of the quirks is water leaks so when we noticed the paint was buckled and blistered on one section of the walls we shrugged and went on with our day enjoying indoor plumbing and horseless carriages.
But when the workers cut out part a wall in the butler’s pantry, it caused one paint chip to fall off the wall next to it. My husband peeled it off figuring it will have to be repainted. Then he called me over.
I nearly passed out. Seriously, I gasped so deeply I made myself lightheaded.
Under all that paint, layer upon layer for who knows how many decades, was the most amazing wallpaper. I haven’t researched it yet, so I don’t know when it was put up, but the design looks to be around the 1930s. If anyone knows from the photo, please leave a comment with that information, I will be your very best friend. Also, I have cookies.
She is a faded beauty, an aged but lovely lady patiently waiting to be unveiled and make an entrance. She is water damaged, faded, ripped and pulling from the wall, but I cannot stop looking at her. Wallpaper is female, apparently. I didn’t realize that either until typing this.
Now my head is swimming. What did it look like when it was new? Did it cover the entire little room? Was the hutch painted white at that time, or had that particular crime not yet occurred, so it was still the bare wood it was meant to be?
These people went to a store, chose that pattern, and had it put up. At that time the building had a dumbwaiter and kitchen so one could order food to be sent up, so I’m assuming they did not do their own work. I imagine a small forest of plants.
What was in the hutch? What dishes did they have? They were likely wealthy so did they have a maid who laid the table?
We are not wealthy, we painted the apartment ourselves. By “we” I mean “my husband.”
I keep going back to look at it, stand back, move close, and touch it with my finger, tracing a line around the palm trees and bridges. It smells musty, old glue and paper and probably mold. It’s a lovely smell, like old books tucked into a proper library. The smell brings so many questions and flights of fancy for me. So much wondering about the people and their lives. Among those lives, my family, going back to the 19th Century. I was born across the Bay, a fact I will forever be bitter about.
Family stories are wonderful, but seeing this relic in my own home, something that, judging by the thickness of the paint layers has been lost for a very long time, it’s like finding a ruin, counting strata to figure out how long it’s been there.
This is how my mind works. This is how I see things. A strip of wallpaper has sent me into a rabbit warren of daydreams and an aching desire for a time machine. But since I don’t currently have one on account of they don’t exist, all I can do is wonder and smile.
Eventually, probably next week, the workmen will come back to patch the holes, and at that time the jig will be up, and they’ll probably have to paint over that spot.
But before they do, we are going to slice that strip of paper out and frame it, and then hang it right in that spot. I’ll walk past it every day and smile since she’s right back where she belongs.
Well, I had finished this article and we sliced out the paper. Lo and behold, there was another behind it! This one was against the plaster, so it is the original. We cut it out too, and they will both be framed. I’ll share that when it’s done.
At a glass blowing show, in the back of a cabinet, set away from the perfect art, was a proto champagne flute.
It sat on a perfect stem, but the bowl hadn’t set properly. It was going to be melted down, but I loved it, so I brought it home.
It can’t be used as a glass, so it sat on my dresser. It existed only to be beautiful to me. It has no function, it is beauty for the sake of beauty.
Immediately I saw the elegant watery dance of this perfectly imperfect vessel, the ripples on a pristine lake sneakily snatching the moonlight.
It makes me smile. Maybe it is a kindred spirit. Perfectly imperfect.
From a twisted glass, a reminder, look for beauty in the broken world, you will find it.
A quiet walk on a peaceful trail, pine trees have dropped branches, dead on the ground. Brown needles, brown cones, brown earth, brown death. But tiny yellow flowers pop through, green stems burst from the nurturing mound. Life begins again.
From death, a reminder, live while you can live the best you can, find the beauty in the perfectly imperfect.
In the end, yellow flowers may grow from your bones, your ash or flesh in the air we breathe. Your life means something, even as it floats away. It will become something beautiful.
The shooting in New Zealand has ripped open wounds that never seem to have time to heal, do they? The pain for these families, for the people who left their homes seeking safety and a new life, is indescribable. People murdered for being dark, foreign, Muslim, whatever the excuse, people murdered. Black-hearted people committing black-hearted deeds.
I cannot imagine. My heart is with you, all of you.
Every news alert, every Breaking News banner, every other Facebook post causes me to clench, what the hell has happened now?
I don’t know what to say anymore. It just never stops.
Yet I write this as I sit on my couch in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I write this with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. I write this on a sunny, lovely March day, my husband and cat with me, a cup of good coffee beside me.
I can hear the two little girls next door right now having the sibling squabbles that I’m so familiar with. I like these girls, I’ve known the younger one since before she joined us. Are these pretty white girls more precious than the Mexican/South American children being torn from their families to be placed in for-profit foster care?
I do not have children, but I have children in my life. I love dearly. I cannot imagine what it is like for their mothers to have them ripped from their arms, and possibly never see again. I cannot imagine that crippling, existential pain. Can you?
How can people be that absolutely cruel and hideous?
I am a white, grey-haired, middle-aged female. I leave my home and know that generally speaking, I’m in no danger. There is no bravery or fear or admonitions to children to watch themselves when I walk out my front door.
I have white skin, I have that privilege. I am very aware of that. In the U.S. we are safe, and we are civilized. Really?
Here is a link from last March of black men killed by the police. It needs to be updated.
How many need to die or be completely dehumanized before we say enough? Black Lives Matter is shouting loudly, but too many dismiss it. The videos are devastating, but we shouldn’t look away. Their families can’t look away. They do not have that luxury.
Can you imagine, my U.S. readers, leaving a war-torn country and take a backbreaking journey to a country that has been held up as a place to find safety, where the great lady and her torch welcome you, as they have my family, your family, all families that aren’t native, only to be torn apart, raped, abused, and dehumanized? I sure as hell can’t.
I’m not suggesting that we are in the same position as countries fighting civil wars, countries bombed on a near-daily basis. I am finished with my coffee, and wondering what my husband and I will do with our Sunday. Listening to the sweet little girls next door make the memories they will laugh about later, as my sister and I do. I have no fear that a bomb will drop downtown and wipe out all I know and love.
But I am afraid. I am afraid because the anger and separation in this country are getting exponentially worse because the rhetoric is becoming more pointed, more specific, more bloodthirsty.
I’m terrified because it appears to be coming to a breaking point, and I fear there will be more blood.
The shooter in New Zealand specifically called out Donald Trump. The person who strode proudly into a mosque and murdered 50 irreplaceable people with glee and a sense of purpose, cited Donald Trump as “….” a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,”
Did that make your blood run cold? It did mine.
Yes, I’m white and privileged. I am very unlikely to be shot by the police because I twitched. I am in a country that is not being bombed from inside or out.
But I am in a country where people inside and out cite the highest office as an inspiration for mass murder. Where beautiful children are forever scarred by what has been done to them.
The little girls are in the hallway fighting again, sounds like there is a debate about who gets to push the elevator button.
I hope with all my heart that this is the height of their drama.
For my readers who have a mental illness, remember, this sustained pain, this constant fear, the unknowable future, can hurt us. I have been deeply depressed off and on. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
As always, please take care of yourself. Acknowledge that your pain is real and legitimate.
It’s not a contest. Nobody “wins” pain. Your pain is valid and worthy of nurturing.
But we cannot allow the black-hearted people committing these horrible acts to win. We cannot give them what they want, we cannot take ourselves off the earth and give them victory.
We can bend, we can even break, but we put ourselves back together, and we fight. Get back up and fight, when you are able to. Fight like your life depends on it.
Because it might.
You’re worth more than that. Don’t let them win. I’ve included the links to organizations that can help you if you need it.
In an earlier article, I wrote that I would not discuss politics or partisan issues, and I keep to that. This is not a political or partisan issue. It is a human dignity issue, a war crimes issue, injustice, un-Constitutional, horrible black-hearted people doing horrible black-hearted things. I have not mentioned I left vs. right, not once.
So let me ask you something. If you read this article, and you get angry, and you decide that I’m describing the right with these factual statements, maybe you should ask yourself one thing.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline National Suicide Prevention Hotline
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
– Dr. Seuss
Like most kids, I grew up with these books, the numbers and colors of various fish, the color of food one will or will not eat, and of course, the Grinch. To this day, it is not Christmas without Boris Karloff’s endearing lisp teaching me about the preferred size of a heart.
Dr. Seuss is so deeply entrenched in our hearts, my husband and I wrote our vows in the appropriate rhyme scheme,
Will you take her as your wife?
Will you love her all your life?
Will you take him as your spouse,
never treat him like a louse?
There are a few things I can point to from my very early life that helped to craft my sense of humor (Warner Bros cartoons) my love of 19th Century romanticism (Beatrix Potter) and my deep and abiding love of silliness and poetry, that would be the gentleman quoted above.
Notice anything there? Cartoon, cartoon, cartoon.
I have never been a big fan of normal. Why look at things from the right end of the telescope? Why look at a rock and see a rock? It’s a tiny mountain, and even tinier creatures live around it, carrying on with their tiny lives and tiny little tandem bikes.
I took this picture a few months ago. It’s a plushy goat’s head with a Hello Kitty bandage on the horn.
While I was giggling and snapping the picture with my phone, someone asked me what the deal was, why was I taking a picture of it. I ran those words over and over in my head to make sure I heard what I thought I did, and then I said with a shrug and furrowed brow, “Because it’s funny.”
I really don’t understand the reason for the question. The plushy goat head is funny, it made me laugh, I squealed and jumped up and down when I saw Hello Kitty, so I had to have a picture. It’s the telescope the wrong way round, why would I look at the world any other way?
I’m used to those questions though, and the looks as well; people looking at me like I am a Martian here to steal our Danish apple reserves. They are mad for apple Danish on Mars, most people don’t know that. And it’s quips like that that cause people to stare at me all mouth-agape.
I don’t care. I love my world.
Play pretend is important
I don’t believe in unicorns. I don’t believe in any supernatural things. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have fun looking for cloven hoof prints when I go hiking. I suspend my disbelief, that’s all. Try it, you won’t look silly, no one even has to know unless you tell them. Look for the unicorns and smile. I bet you that someone else wants to play too, but don’t think they can because they’re a grown-up.
You know how some games have an age range, “For ages 4 – 8” that sort of thing? You know what doesn’t have an age limit? FUN! PLAY PRETEND!
Yes, play pretend. People may think, adults don’t do that. Wanna bet?
Recently a friend’s kids asked if I would play with them. We set out to catch a dragon. Should you need this information, dragons eat rocks. baby dragons eat rocks, shells, and crispy Cheetos, and lizards eat rocks and shells. We found so many dragons! I got to hear what colors they were, how big, if they breathe fire or not.
I learned this because I asked them, and they told me. And then they asked me what I saw, and I told them.
There is no age limit on fun. You can play pretend with anything.
Fun with photography
I took my own photos for my book because I can’t afford a professional.
I set up my photo equipment in my dining room. I had the background stand, a tripod, and three of those lights with umbrellas.
I staged the props, took a picture, moved a light, took another, lowered an umbrella, moved stuff around. I did this for a couple of months, probably took about 3,000 pictures, and I got about 10 I actually think are good.
I could call that learning a new craft, or practical use of resources, or taking care of business. All of those are completely correct.
But what I was doing, for all the fancy adult words, was playing pretend.
I am not a photographer, I had zero idea what I was doing, I was learning things as I went and had the time of my life.
You want to play pretend, but think you’re too old? Dude, I’m 51. Nobody is gonna tell me I’m too old, they’re not the boss o’me.
(For those who are not from Northern California, “Dude” is unisex, not species specific, and not specific to biological life.)
And they’re not the boss o’you either.
We have to be adults sometimes, of course. We have to work, pay bills, raise families, whatever your life looks like. But nobody gets to take your imagination, nobody. Your thoughts and dreams are your own.
It’s ok to play, in fact, it’s essential to life and mental health. It’s not a cure-all for those of us suffering, but it can ease the pain, or even help keep it on a leash. Look through the telescope wrong way round. Have fun.
Oh, one thing, a comically undersized umbrella will not protect you from falling anvils. That’s a safety tip for you.