Tag Archives: current events

Self-Care in Painful Times

This page is not partisan, I’ve made that very clear.

I address issues that are not left/right, issues that are simply about human decency and morality.

Ripping children from their parents is not a partisan issue.
Putting children and little babies into cages, physically and emotionally abusing them, scarring them forever, is not a partisan issue.
Gunning down African Americans on our streets is not a partisan.
Looking for answers to stop gun violence and spree killings is not partisan.

I woke up this morning to find that there has been another mass shooting, 13 hours after the last. Nine irreplaceable humans are dead. There have now been more mass shootings in the United States than days in the year.

On the Nightmare and Laughter Facebook page, I offered soft words for Gilroy and encouraged self-care.
Six days later I did the same for El Paso.
And now, 13 hours after El Paso, we have Dayton.

My page is becoming a testament to barbarity, to hopelessness, to death and crippling pain. I don’t want people looking at it and, instead of finding comfort or laughter or interest, finding themselves scrolling through tragedy after tragedy.

All of this affects everyone, and I am no exception. I want to be a comfort and a refuge for my readers, that is the mission of this page. But I have to take care of myself before I can do that. And posting what will later be reminders of atrocity after atrocity is already compounding the nightmare for me.

Put simply, I’m getting depressed.

I don’t want anyone coming to my page and finding themselves in the same position. I want you to come to my page and not find only condolences. I want you to come to my page and find hope and comfort. Of course in the heat of it, everyone will know what I’m referring to, but my page will read like an affirmation, rather than an obituary. That is what Nightmares and Laugher is, that is what I set out to do. It will keep the page a safe place for you and honestly, for me as well.

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So please know that should you be affected by a future event, (I wish I could say if there is a future event) that the affirmation is with you in my mind and my heart. Should you be adjacent to this tragedy, the affirmation is with you in my mind and my heart. And if you are a human in the United States or anywhere and this hurts you, the affirmation is with you in my mind and my heart.

Life many of us, my heart breaks and I cry with every bullet spent, every irreplaceable life forever gone. I am now crying as I type these words. It is simply overwhelming.

This is not a partisan issue. This is a national emergency that affects all of us. I will not hear any anti-regulation arguments, I will not hear any defense of what is happening, which is what an anti-regulation argument is. We need solutions, we need think tanks.

I do not have the answers. It is not my job to come up with the answers. We need the people we elected to do their damn job.

It’s easy to feel helpless but there are things we can do.  Here is a list of five things that any of us can do to help, to be proactive.

My beautiful, talented, irreplaceable niece hid from the shooter in Gilroy, while shrapnel flew beside her. I watched my dear friends receive a text from her, with no idea if it would be her last. My friend, her father, who is comfortable with guns, and knows how to use them safely, texted her back to remind her what to do in that situation. This is not acceptable. This is not normal. And this is not something I want anyone else to go through.

But it’s likely they will. So I want to remind you, and myself, to exercise self-care and watch your mental state, especially if you suffer from a mental illness. You can’t take care of others if you are broken. It is not selfish, quite the opposite. The consequences of ignoring and not treating your pain can be dire, and your family would suffer horribly.

I’m including resources that can help. It is not selfish to accept that you can’t do it alone. You are important, you are irreplaceable, and you are in my heart, even if I don’t know you.

 
National Helpline

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.

1-800-273-8255

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National Poetry Month – It Matters

April is National Poetry Month.

Does it matter?

It matters to me because I was first and foremost a poet, from my very early days. I was proud to call myself that, it was a title for me, an identity, something that set me apart from others.  I could play guitar, albeit poorly, I could sing, and I wrote poetry. I put my heart on paper and bled my very soul.

I was a bit dramatic.

I don’t remember not writing, hunched over notebooks, scraps of paper, diaries, recording my life and joys and traumas in one of my only outlets.  It was the only power I had, creating worlds, recording events, finding some escape with a skill that, as far as I knew, not many others had.  The fact that not too many people understood it, or valued it, made it somehow more enticing.  They didn’t like it because they didn’t understand it.  They made no effort to understand it.  I still kind of feel that way, actually.

Years later I would major in Creative Writing, with a focus on poetry.  One of the worst mistakes I ever made, by the way.  It placed a watcher on my shoulder I never had before, it silenced my voice, took my muse, and left me a shell of a person.  In fairness, the watcher was the gasoline, but the excessive, crippling drunkenness and black depression was the match that blew it all up. I did not get my degree.

It was not all bad though, it gave me stories I managed to write to long term memory.

I transferred to UC Santa Cruz from Ohlone Junior College in Fremont, CA.  I was accepted with the understanding that I complete in summer session two courses I missed, astronomy and statistics.  Math and I are not friends, it’s just a jerk, actually, so this was not a good thing for me.

Sitting in my seat, I  looked around the room and saw 40-some people, all of them artists, staring at the professor like deer in the headlights, trembling slightly and clutching a copy of “Leaves of Grass” all of us simply not wired this way, all of us taking General Education classes in the summertime.

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They were not clutching copies of Leaves of Grass.  I lied.

That fall semester, UCSC canceled Creative Writing and I, and all the other poets were lost.  We sat under the shade of a tree, dressed in black, shunning the sun the Math majors were prancing in, chain-smoking and silent.  In hindsight, this is a pretty funny picture.

So a quick romp in and out of San Francisco State, and that was that. No more hope of a degree, no more poetry in my heart, a whole lot of booze.

It took 25 years to get this back.  Twenty-five years later I finally got my muse back.

And now, it is National Poetry Month.

Does anyone still care?

I was just at City Lights bookstore here in San Francisco for the 100th birthday party of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  It was packed with people, blocking the streets, crowding the store, an entire day of poetry readings and positive, glowing, happy energy.  People just beaming, surrounded by like minds.

Some of those people were poets, I’m sure, some not.  It doesn’t matter.  What brought them there was poetry and the celebration of this amazing man and the haven he created.  He just released a new book, at 100.  I have released one in 51 years. I’ll get right on that.

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City Lights Books – A haven for poets and everyone else.

Poetry does matter.  It matters like the air we breathe, like laughter, like tears, like fire, like rage.  It matters to every abused child who uses it to escape.

Worlds are built.  People are created.  Flight and magic and vengeance and mirth made real.

It matters.

Do you write?  Do you want to?  Then write, for crying out loud!  Who cares if it’s good?  Does it make you happy?  Were you filled in some way by writing it?  Then write more. Keep it private if you like, or show it to only those people you trust to hold it gently.

It matters.

If you write and you would like to share it, do put it in the comments.  I love to see poetry proudly offered.  I love to see art of any kind.

I’ve included a link to my book as well.

My advice to you, for what it’s worth, whatever you do, whatever your plans, for fuck’s sake don’t take a poetry class!

Life Songs – Discussions with an Angry Child

World Bipolar Day

I am ashamed to admit that I did not know that today is World Bipolar Day.  Nobody sent me a Bipolar Day card.  Also, so far there has been no cake.

I found out from a Reddit AMA – Reddit AMA Dr. Steven Barnes, PhD – Dr. Erin Michalak, PhD

International Society for Bipolar Disorders

https://www.isbd.org/world-bipolar-day

World Bipolar Day Official Site

http://www.worldbipolarday.org/

 

“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.

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I’ve done this climb, I promise you will need to stop and take a breath. May be a heavy-handed metaphor, but a good visual I think.

 

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?

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Happy place!

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.

 

National Helpline

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.

1-800-273-8255

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

 

 

 

When the World is on Fire We All Burn

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.

New Zealand cartoon
Credit: Ruby Jones

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?

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Credit: Sue St. Blaine

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.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/03/29/police-killings-black-men-us-and-what-happened-officers/469467002/

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.

Statue of Liberty

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.

New Zealand lotus
Breathe – and honor your feelings

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.

Why?

 

National Helpline
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.
1-800-273-8255
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

I Can’t Do it Today

I can’t do it today.

I have several articles I’m working on right now. I was going to post a happy, lighthearted romp to help people get through what’s happening right now.

I can’t do it.  I can’t write it, I can’t try to pass it off as genuine right now.

Here’s the thing, I’m pissed off, rage-filled, and every abuse button is being bombarded like a meteor shower on my chest.  Every woman I know is having similar reactions, and the men in my life are standing beside us, there to catch us if we need to break, and there to be a show of force, of unity, as we stand tall.

But that doesn’t alter the fact that I feel like I’m going to shatter.  It seems like a contradiction, I’m strong and about to break, but it’s not.  I am strong because I’m about to break, but I stand anyway.  Strength is doing what we think we can’t, bravery is doing what we are afraid of, and integrity is doing what is right because it is right, regardless of the cost.

As I write this, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is testifying about her abuse at the hands of a candidate for the highest court in the country.  She has received death threats, her family has received death threats, she has had to uproot her life to move away from men so terrified of women that they must resort to terrorism to feel better.

This is not about politics, this is about human rights.  Human dignity.  It’s about what we as women go through all of our lives.  It’s about the smirks and knowing winks between men with power over us, it’s about the President of the United States demeaning women everywhere this time, by immediately taking the side of the accused, and saying in his best five-year-old schoolyard vocabulary that this is a “…big fat con job.”

Are you angry?  Are you feeling helpless, or empowered, or scared, or on fire?  Maybe all of those things?

The main point of this blog is mental health and safety for people suffering.  I am here for you, and I will be a voice of comfort when I can.  But right now, I can’t.

I am enraged with a white-hot flame.  I am alternately strong and crying, motivated and hiding.

But I want to write at this moment because it’s real and raw and unedited.  This is me, in a bad place, trying to keep my shit together.

I  hope that by the time you read this, Kavanaugh is pounding sand somewhere.  But I am not optimistic.  I am not optimistic about anything.

I stand with you, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.  I wish I had a quarter of your strength and integrity.

This is my cat Crazy Legs with his doggy sculpture friend.  It makes me smile.  Maybe you will like it too.

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