I had an interesting e-mail today.
"I thought you’d be interested to read and share with your readers this Guideposts story..."
Huh? Has this person read my blog? And, umm...isn't Guideposts a Christian magazine? Have they not noticed that I'm not only not Christian, I am very much pagan?
"...written by actress Glenn Close. She talks about her attempts to help remove the stigma from mental illnesses by talking openly about people affected by them as well as their families’ struggles..."
Seems being nuttier than a Claxton fruitcake gets a body noticed.
So I read the article, and Glen Close owes me a tissue. It's only fair, she made me cry.
See, the thing is...I've been about as open as I could be about my variety-plate of crazy. Not only do I not hide it, I crack jokes about it and try very hard to make some of my...erm...quirks...useful. Wait, you mean you don't think having an OCD housekeeper would be useful? Dang...
One of the thoughts I had while reading the piece (which isn't awfully long or preachy, contains some interesting facts and poses a few good questions about the social stigma of nuttery) was about treatment...about people who receive it successfully and people who don't.
I'm glad there are folks out there who benefit from medication and modern treatment options. I don't. Meds don't do anything for me besides take away that which I consider to be most me...my creativity. It seems that my own brand of crazy shares the wellspring with whatever artistry I can lay claim to (and some days, I have to admit, I can't claim much)(most days, in truth).
I also had the thought...what if I can't get better? What if I have become so wrapped up in these conditions that they're how I identify myself? What if I can't be anything but the me I am now? What if sometimes, the idea of not feeling this way is terrifying and leaves me feeling lost instead? How depressing. And yet...
I'm oddly lucky. I've had a lifetime of my conditions. I know when what I'm feeling is true, is real, and when it's a figment of misfiring neurons and chemistry gone awry. That doesn't change the hurt, confusion, or frustration that I frequently feel...but somehow, knowing the source help me. I know I can weather it, because I have weathered it since I was a child. It may beat me down, but I'm never entirely beaten.
Which doesn't make it any easier. And while I'm blessed with a host of wonderful friends and several family members who are patient, compassionate, and understanding about my weirdness, most folks aren't so lucky. There are plenty of people...probably a few in your own life (and here's a hint - if you can't find the crazy person in the room, find a mirror instead....it may be you) who are hiding what they're experiencing and trying very hard to paste a facade of normalcy onto their lives because they fear being outcast, shunned, or otherwise stigmatized.
I have long held that depression (and other psychological conditions, too) is like emotional cancer, eating a person alive, riddling them with its sickness. It's not always survivable. And unlike cancer, which has causes, which has walks and runs and pink ribbons and fundraisers and survivors and sufferers who share their triumphs and tragedies publicly, mental illness is still largely a secret, remaining hidden in the shadows. We're still burdened with not only our conditions, but with shame...shame for something we can't control any more than someone with MS or Parkinson's can control their illnesses.
I applaud Ms. Close and her efforts to help open the doors and windows of the house of crazy, to let in light and air and stir the cobwebs and dust out of the corners. I wish her well in her endeavors.
On bad days, yeah, I struggle to breathe, to keep on moving forward on my life's path...I feel sorrow and pain and am ashamed because I am a burden, worthless, useless, pointless...
On my better days, I don't suffer from insanity...I enjoy every minute of it.
Either way, I've never been one to shut up about it...because it's part of who I am, part of how I live my life, like missing a finger or having a stutter, or tasting the color orange...as much a part of me as anything else.
So if you didn't click the link (provided several time above), here's one more chance. And then, if you feel like it and haven't been bored to tears already, check out my own take on the crazies by looking at the variety plate.
Oh...and I may be crazy, but I also have a long memory. Next time Ms. Close and I are lunching (yeah, that'll happen), I hope she brings a hankie...or at least one of those little pocket packs of Kleenex...
Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!
"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One
For old quotes, look here.
For old quotes, look here.