Tag Archives: #MondayBlogs

Coming out

A bad thing happened in October and I’m not ready to write about it yet, but people who have been paying attention will notice that right about the time that I really went off the deep end. (Well, this time around, anyway.)

I have pared my daily life down to the most basic the most and essential life functions because SURVIVAL. I just need to get by. Do my job. Take care of my kid. Sleep. The other stuff will either wait or it won’t get done or it will get frustrated and scream for attention. As the latter has occurred more than once, I’ve been dolling out quite a few explanations and apologies lately:

“I’m sorry, I’m doing the best I can.”

“It isn’t that I don’t want to do X, I just haven’t had the time/energy/attention span.”

“Give me time. Please. I’ll get better. I’m doing the best I can.”

Nope. It really never even occurred to me to try.
Nope. It really never even occurred to me to try.

This Button Poetry video showed up in my Facebook feed. In it, Sabrina Benaim eloquent and powerfully explains to her mother what depression looks and feels like from the inside.  Thank you for those stirring words and images, Ms. Benaim. As I’m sure you could tell from the reactions in the audience, you accurately voiced the feelings of many.

From to her explanation of depression as miniscule and managable one day, then as massive and brutalizing as a bear the next, to her characterization of anxiety as an unwelcome party guest — Sabrina brings it home. After watching that video, I felt like giving her a slow clap.

I grew up in the 90's. I know of few higher commendations.
I grew up in the 90’s. I know of few higher commendations.

Because, you see, my happiness is also a high fever that will ultimately break. That is what mania is. So when someone says to me, “I just don’t know if I really believe that you actually have bipolar disorder — I’ve never really seen you be manic.” What am I supposed to say? Observe: My illness is not so much roller-coaster as it is pendulum, swinging from side to side, and so we shall go from the light side to the dark, and while you will certainly recognize the dark days for what they truly are, you will mistake the light days for health and wellness because you don’t see that I am actually sailing into the Sun. Proof? Really, you need evidence? Ok, here you go, flip through these snapshots of me over the past ten years — I like to call it the “Watch Sarah Gain and Lose and Gain 100 Pounds” Show.

Mania, you fatty bitch.
Mania, you fatty bitch.

If I’m not proving I’m sick, I’m defending my right to self-care: “You know, I feel like our relationship has been really one-sided lately.” You’re right. It has. Because even though I love you and I care about you as a person, right now my head is one big snarly black mess of fluff and lint, and I can’t seem to keep arbitrary things like dates, appointments, or birthdays straight. I love you, but I don’t want to go out –because I don’t want to have fun when having fun just isn’t fun anymore. I just want to sleep and make sure that there is enough energy left in my reserves to properly take care of my child because if anyone is going to be short-changed it sure as shit isn’t going to be her.  It might have to be you. I’m sorry. I love you. I am doing my best. Can you hang on until it gets better? If you can’t that’s okay! Here: have an out: You can hang on until it gets better or you can plead self-preservation in your own right and leave for a while. I won’t be upset. I wouldn’t blame you. You wouldn’t be the first.

I feel like explaining my depression is something like what my non-heteronormative friends tell me about coming out: it isn’t a one-time traumatic release. “Oh thank God, I got that off my chest!” Nope! It’s over, and over, and over, and over. And each time, depending on who I’m “coming out” to, a host of new fears come to the party: will this effect my job? My reputation? Will I lose her as a friend, a colleague? Have I said too much? Is she still going to like me, respect me, want to be around me? Have I frightened her? Overwhelmed her? Will she now turn tail and run?

After a certain point, this whole blog became a calculated risk — people that I know in REAL LIFE read this and will now know me differently! Even if they never bring it up, they have seen behind the mask. My entire adult life I have heard comments like, “You have anxiety? Well, I never would have guessed!” or “You carry yourself with such poise. I had no idea you suffered from depression the way you do.” I am letting that go up in smoke, because I’m willfully telling you: Yes, I am a mess. Yes, I have these disorders. No more compartmentalization and no more hiding. Even if I didn’t know it at the time of inception, that was the mission behind starting the Real Sarah C Project.

But here’s the thing — I fooled you.

For a little while, at least, I fooled you, and now perhaps you will sit back and wonder how many other people in your life are functioning with some form of mental illness — 1 in 5 adults, according to this study — so chances are you know someone. You might even be that someone. And when you consider the masses of individuals coming out and embracing their own non-nueronormativity and fighting to dismantle the systemic stigmatization surrounding mental illness and other disorders, it is plain to see: we are just not as isolated, as powerless, or as dysfunctional as our faulty wiring would have us believe. Perhaps some days, it’s all we can do just to function and to survive, but every so often, we’ll shine.

Where you rest

November 15th, 2014

Today was your birthday. You would have been 59. I couldn’t bring you a card, or cake, or flowers, so I brought to you your legacy — a little girl with the same turn of jaw and curve of chin. We turned East and drove to that beach where you rest, to those waters that are now your arms, and legs, and laughing mouth, to that sand that is now your hands and feet. I couldn’t see you, I couldn’t feel you, but I prayed to God that you were there.

Moira was a little scared at first, like she is when she meets a stranger. I sat with her at the outer limits of the surf as the waves drifted slowly in and you tickled her toes, wet her hair. You whispered to her quietly, confidentially through the waves. She picked up wet, sloppy handfuls of sand and squeezed them delightfully through her fingers, and I imagined that she was squeezing your hand. She stomped her feet in an oncoming wave, and I pictured her dancing with you. We walked into the water, past the shorebreak, and into the crisp blueness to sing you Happy Birthday, and I imagined your arms around us, holding us. It was the very best I could do.

I opened my hands underneath the waves, closed my eyes, and prayed, much as I have done every time I have visited this place. Let her be here, let her come. Let there be a touch, let me be open, let there be something.

I heard Moira laughing as she played with her daddy in the water. I felt the waves ripple past my skin, warmed and cooled in turn by the sun and the afternoon’s breeze. I waited, but the supernatural evaded me, as it is wont to do.

Closing my hands, I brought them up out of the water, and opened them toward Moira. She smiled in that way that proves she was born for her Hawaiian name — Kealohi, The Light. “Hau`oli Lā Hānau, Meemaw Janis,” I said, sing-song for us both, before turning to go home.

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Early Morning Irrational Anger

Early Morning Irrational Anger.

That’s what I’m going to call it. That’s what it is. Not being much of a “morning person”, I get sucked into a lot. But today dun did took the cake.

I just don’t think I’m going to listen to Hudson and Scotty B’s Bizarro Morning Show anymore. And here’s why:

Listen, I don’t know a lot about radio shows, or how they are produced, or what goes into making one, or how hosts are (or aren’t) held accountable for what is said on air, so all of this is just my own opinion, said for my benefit (otherwise, I’ll just be bottled up and pissy all day, and that is not a pretty picture) and hopefully for your entertainment (my friends tell me I’m funny – I’m certain they’re just being nice). If anything that follows pisses you off, go write your own blog.

That being said, I think that before an individual of a certain authority (and let’s face it, even radio hosts have some sway) deigns to present something to the general public as a bonafide – or even as a supposed – fact, there ought to be a little thought, a little research, or hell, failing any of that, a little bit of human compassion to deployed to modulate it. Call me a softy, but I don’t think you should just get up there on your soapbox and start barking at passer-by, preaching as if it were the Gospel, oblivious (or uncaring) of who you might injure with your message.

Besides, I think these guys have cornered that market.
Besides, I think these guys have cornered that market.

So, I hop into the car at seven this morning and I don’t quite catch the beginning of what they’re talking about, but I quickly get the gist: the iPhone 6 has just been officially announced and people are all in a tizzy. Hudson and Scotty B are actually discussing people’s tendency to go so over-the-top-apeshit over these new devices that they will willingly drive themselves into debt in order to possess one, and how ridiculous the “buy-more-get-more” mentality has become in our culture. I’m nodding along as I drive, because I agree – I don’t really see the point in having the new “IT” device as soon as it is debuted. Truth be known, I swore off the iPhone for years and years thinking it an over-priced, over-blown piece of fluff technology. Now that I finally have one, I like it quite a lot, though I expect that I’m going to keep it for at least another five years, considering how much I paid for it.

That aside, the more the radio hosts talked, it came around to the subject of welfare or food stamp abuse – they started to discuss those folks who show up to the welfare office in a Mercedes or whom you see in the line at the grocery store using food stamps, dressed to the nines, hair done, nails manicured, with the newest iPhone or Android device, and how it just ain’t right that these people, who are living on tax payer dollars mind you, possess any kind of luxury. They even had a caller, formerly from Virginia, whose wife had worked in a state office passing out the checks – and don’t know it? She saw at least ten or fifteen of these blatant welfare abusers everyday!

And that was when the (internal) fight started.

You see, that whole mentality just pisses me off. Who the fuck are you to judge these people? I said to my radio. You don’t know the first thing about who they are, where they have come from, or what they have lived through.

Tell me how your long-distance observations have justified the extent of your knowledge regarding what turn of event put them in a position to be in the welfare office collecting benefits? You don’t know if they were recently working for a very profitable and successful business that suddenly crashed and had to close its doors, and they lost their six-figure job. Now they, along with their five kids, are living in Grandma’s basement trying to make ends meet on just that one welfare check. Not only might they be adjusting to living on a quarter of the income, but consider this: if you lost your livelihood, how willing are you to immediately abandon your very way of life in that time of insecurity? Few people are going to go ahead and give up on the ways of life and the things that they did before immediately following such a disruption, and crippling, lose-your-home-your-savings-your-will-to-live debt can come upon a person very quickly.

Frankly, if I lost my job tomorrow, I would not sell my nice, reliable car nor my fancy smart phone in order to make ends meet. I would be using that car and that phone every day to try and land another job to support my family. I would also (since I’m a sign language professional) spend the money to get or perform on myself a damn good manicure, thank you very much. It’s called a professional persona, and that is how you differentiate yourself from hundreds of other qualified applicants in an overly saturated job market. I would then do my hair, put on whatever I had in my closet that looked the best, go down to the welfare office, pick up my check, and go back to job hunting, you stuck up, judgmental turd!

The presumption by laypersons that individuals who receive benefits are somehow taking advantage of the system is not only cynical, it is downright diabolical. Rather than making flash judgments and immediately putting each other down, shouldn’t we be empowering one another and lifting each other up? Here’s a thought: instead of, “Oh, I bet she uses her welfare money to buy booze and cigarettes…” change it up to a more compassionate, “Hm, I bet she came on real hard times real fast to end up here. She must be trying hard to get back.” A little bit of compassion will go a long way, and trust me, it will save your soul.

Because, honestly, how dare you? I don’t mean to say that there aren’t people that take advantage of the system – certainly, there are. But you know whose job it is to weed those folks out? The case workers and government employees that accept and approve applications for assistance. Period. End of discussion. It is not up to you or me or Joe Blow in the supermarket to pass judgment on another human being that we have never even spoken a passing word to. If you tend to look at a person who receives benefits and assume that they have an ulterior motive or are misusing tax payer money in someway, that says a great deal more about you than it does about the people in the system.

For me, this issue hits close to home. My family doesn’t receive any kind of assistance – though it would be helpful, I won’t lie. My husband and I work four jobs just to keep up with the cost of living in the state of Hawaii. I wasn’t raised on welfare either, but my four older siblings were (that’s them in the featured photo, I’m the shiny forehead with fringe). Our mother was only able to go back to school and get her nursing license because of the welfare program in the state of California – a program that, at the time, many people wanted to have limited to just one year, when the nursing program took two to complete. I probably would have had a very different life if things had turned out differently, and for that I’m grateful.

Anyway, I think I’ll start listening to a different morning radio station, to be perfectly honest. Hudson and Scotty B are cool, and most of the time, they really made me laugh. In this instance, they said that they weren’t trying to be “preachy”. But if that was the case, guys, (I hate to say it, but): Epic. Fail.

Next time on “Irrational Anger” see “Evening News Irrational Anger” when we talk about the “Homeless Problem” and how increasing numbers of metropolitan areas try to solve the “Homeless Problem” by making the condition of being homeless illegal.