Two reflections

Easter BunnyFamily

Can be a nest of vipers

The greatest joy

An empty glass

The pain you feel when it matters most

Strangers

The best of times

The cruelest cut

A Sunday

Morning

Before the squirrels are out

You leave the house you grew up in

The walls and plaster and wood of it

Walking fast into town

Empty ships, last night’s slips

A faint odor of terpentine

The market stalls are bare awaiting their traders

Sun is hardly met in sky

You don’t know why

You escape the warmth to be in the cold

Where things unsaid ring truer

In the little park off by the church

Horse chestnuts have fallen

Ivy grows lush

Statues keep their secrets

And imported flowers are red among the green

Like Spanish dancers

You remember

The hollow feeling

And the times it wasn’t

The whoop and rush of emotion

Now you are older and still you are that child

The theatre stands unmanned

All the actors washing their sins

Up to their elbows in suds

He has taken his bike along fastest route

You met here before

Maybe you were twelve

The doorways are the same

The ship fronts have changed names

But still he smells of Autumn and old books

Still his large hand covers yours

And you are the child again

Running from the pain

Dazzled by the jewels of the city

Looking in windows

Seeing this time

Two reflections

Skins of fear

08c50a5ff98e430af4bc56e4b6b80bc6Surely this is the year

We put our skins of fear aside

They are already well flayed and comfortable to wear

And step into

Shoes that do not yet fit

But if we hold on

Shaking in place

Tempted to turn and run

Back to the oppressive we know so well

If we learn to be

This new size

These new shoes

Lending us the necessary dexterity

To skip away from excuses

Vanquish the tendency

To think we only have

One tread
One mark on this Earth

And cannot instead

Inherit the wind

We stay in that diminished moment

Growing cold though the sun shines

You have to satisfy yourself

Fill in the edges

Pick your ink

Color the world

You have to lift yourself up

Nobody else can love you as much

From the cradle to the grave

There’s one friend who won’t leave

If you learn to stop hating yourself

Movement

Is an elixir

Be it in your arms

The first time we danced

Or from your house

The last time I looked back

And as we leave pieces of ourselves

Like a photo album of torn skin

We are surely moving forward

Learning again

The lightness

Of being

Those words of promise

images (259x194)

Count the

People who have said

The exact same thing

You must trust me

It would be pathological not to

There is no good reason

I am telling the truth

Here’s a promise

I mean what I say

I swear

Then. Then. Then.

It is a lie

What do you do

The next time

And the next?

How do you disseminate

Or decide?

I can trust this one

But not this one

You may be saying the exact same thing

Expecting me to believe

Something different

But how?

Why does one promise

Differ from another?

Why does one person’s assurance

Ring true whilst another is, hollow?

You often cannot tell

As much as you want to

As smart as you wish

You simply do not know

You’re at the mercy of those words of promise

Which means

Potentially it can keep happening

When it does, eventually something breaks and you say

Enough ! Just enough !

Then you really can’t believe anyone

You just can’t

If you can’t believe anyone then what?

Where do you go from there?

How do you get over that?

How do you move on?

Isn’t moving on surely, just being alone?

If that much mistrust has built

That many people have proven false

Of course a voice in your head says

Maybe it’s your fault

All of this

Because you’re the common denominator

You deserve this and cause it

Somehow

But you don’t know how

You just want

People to be honest

Don’t tell me things because you think I want to hear them

Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Just be honest

It’s the dishonesty I can’t take

Even as the truth can hurt

A lie will always be worse

Mental Health Month “Inferiority”

The next time you come across someone who has a mental illness, consider the following…

We poke fun at people calling them mentally ill (Trump) without really considering the effect such labeling may have on someone who IS mentally ill. In poking fun we are looking to someone we do not respect and saying ‘they’re mentally ill’ by implication, someone we do not respect is mentally ill – this is all bad.

Just like saying ‘he’s so gay’ or ‘that’s so gay’ you may mean nothing by it, (good grief who hasn’t said it at least once?) but it is implying a negative connotion.

White people cannot and rightfully so, use the N word, but black people can because they own the rights to that word over anyone else. Likewise if you are gay, you could say to another gay person ‘you are so gay’ and it wouldn’t be offensive because it’s about who is saying it to who. So the same applies to derogatory statements about mental health. If two people are sitting in a psych ward and say “Trump is mentally ill” that doesn’t have the same emotional fall out as if someone who is not mentally ill makes the claim.

That may be hard to undesrtand but it’s about sensisitivity and it’s just like any category of people. A Native American can make jokes about Native Americans but an Anglo person cannot. Is that Political Correctness run amock? Not really, when you consider the history behind this.

Much as I have heard some awful sexist jokes and the only person who could tell them should be a woman, and not even then. Bottom line; Don’t go there, it’s not worth it.

I would argue, black people are better off NOT using the N word, and the same applies to any group who may use derogatory jokes/statements about their group in jest, it’s probably not very funny. If that’s too PC then so be it, I don’t see it as a detriment to world humor if we reduce how many off-color jokes we tell.

Ultimately what we relate things to says a lot about what we think of them. If we compare mentally ill people to someone they know we despise, then it’s a criticism whether wrapped up in a joke or not. Next time you are tempted to joke about mental illness consider whether it’s really worth the punch line and the laughs, and whether it’s really funny or just a means of exploiting an already stigmatized group of people. If that seems too serious, so be it, mental illness IS serious just like racism is, sexism is, prejudice is.

What does the mentally ill person feel when they hear jokes and put downs related to mental illness? Inferior.

One may say, a person who suffers from a mental illness is already subject to feeling of inferiority and this is probably the case, therefore they are vulnerable to begin with, and every subsequent insult and attack adds to that feeling.

Again, I have heard people lament the ‘weakness’ and over-sensitivity, of mentally ill people. The typical taunt being; “Why do you have to be SO over-sensitive?”

I would argue, what does it take to be a little sensitive around someone you know is going through a hard time? What does it actually TAKE?

There are many people who identify or are HSP (Highly Sensitive People) and this is not always related to mental illness but the two have a relationship because of the difficulty  of being an HSP in a world of mostly harder-nosed types, proud of their ability to not be sensitive, who see any sensitivity as a weakness and are not afraid of saying so.

I’m not going to labor the point about the value of having sensitivity or the obvious detriment to compassion if we do not have any, because I know there are two sides to this, and with such extremes it is unlikely they will agree. I would only ask that less judgement and condemnation exist, permitting those who are sensitive to go about their lives unmolested.

If you are a HSP and have a mental illness, your struggle is often magnified by the accute awareness of your situation and others reactions and responses to you. If someone makes a joke at your expense that wounds you on a deeper level than those who are able to shrug it off. For some, sensitivity is perceived as a weakness of character and their attitude is one of a bully who takes pleasure in seeing the sensitive person react. If you know someone like that, maybe now is the time to call them on that.

The TV show Thirteen Reasons Why may not be a good example of mental illness, and is lacking in many ways, but one truism is the development of hurt in the main character by the insensitivity around her. This can be a determining factor that leads to the taking of your own life, as in her case. I would argue that she also hurt others, and this was not explored in the show sufficiently, nor was mental illness really examined which it should have been. But irrespective, it highlights the progression of hurt to someone with presumably a pre-existing mental condition, that acts as a trigger to take her own life.

We can be part of a reason why someone is crushed. We may not realize we have that power, and maybe knowing we do, will make us a worse tormenter, but if we want to avoid hurting others, which I hope most of you do, then considering what our words do to those who are more sensitive, doesn’t take very long, doesn’t cost anything and can literally make such a difference. It can stop someone who already is feeling inferior from feeling so inferior that they see no purpose in going on.

Everyone is equal. Nobody is inferior to someone else until they act badly and show their true colors.

 

Mental Health Month “Shame”

SHAME

“Shame on anyone who provokes unnecessary shame.”

For those who have never experienced mental health issues, it may be possible to consider a mentally ill person as wallowing lazily in their feelings of elected sadness. This may provoke a feeling of ‘isn’t it a shame?’ a sense that they are wasting their life choosing to act and behave this way.

Many times the mentally ill person will be quizzed;

Do you work out?

Do you eat right?

Do you sleep enough?

Sometimes those quizzes are not kind queries but have the double-headed effect of sounding like criticisms. The implication being; If you worked out (better or more often) if you ate better (your fault) if you slept well (rather than badly, by choice) you’d not be sick.

I go back to my earlier point, barring cigarette smokers, would we say this to someone who told us they suffered from cancer? (And is it even morally right to condemn a cigarette smoker for his/her part in their disease?).

Who the hell do we think we are?

Well … we think we are the well ones, the ones who have the answers to the malady of elected depression and/or mental-illness. We think this because we have no ability to empathize with a different way of feeling, because we have no experience of it ourselves or we do and we ‘got over it’ so we assume everyone else can.

It’s worth noting, there are differing types of mental illness (no shit Sherlock!) and of those, differing degrees and/or cause/effects. By this I mean the following;

If you are raped, you may suffer depression, anxiety, flash-backs and PTSD afterward. If you don’t that doesn’t make you stronger. If you do that doesn’t make you weaker. Those symptoms may go in a short time, they may persist, they may last ages. It will depend upon a myriad of factors, mainly, whether you had a pre-existing mental illness or not.

If you are already anxious and depressed and you are raped, then it stands to reason, it will exacerbate pre-existing symptoms. If you are not anxious and depressed and you are raped, you may have fewer symptoms because you are not adding to an existing list of symptoms. Again, taht doesn’t reflect how strong you are.

See it this way … if you have an auto immune disease like thyroid, you are at higher risk of getting another auto immune disease. That’s because whatever propensity predisposes you to the development of the auto immune disease, makes you vulnerable to others because they work similarly as they have ‘auto immune’ in common.

With mental illness, people with bipolar often experience Borderline Personality Disorder at the same time, and ADHD. People with Depression often experience Anxiety at the same time.

Sounds bad?

The propensity is by no means a death sentence, it’s just like saying if you have red hair you are more likely to get skin cancer than if you have dark skin, but dark skinned people CAN get skin cancer and not every red head does. Propensity is not a certainty as there are other (epigenetic) factors at play as well as our friend CHANCE.

And chance, almost rhymes with choice – bringing us back to the point. Shame is a choice. It’s a choice we as people who experience mental illness can make, to avoid as much as possible, and it’s a choice people who know mentally ill people can make when they deal with them.

You can choose to treat others as you would wish to be treated. The law of karma let’s call it.

Or you can choose to satisify some blood lust within you and make someone else feel very, very bad. Yeah you have that power, you are almost a super hero – not.

Shame is inextricorbly linked with sexual abuse in childhood, rape, molestation, illness, rejection, certain religions, gender, sexuality and other societal conventions that often it appears, seek to remind us we are not good.

As women we are told, we are dirty if we sleep around.

As children we are told, we are perverted if we masturbate.

As loners we are told, we’re weird because we prefer a book to company.

The list goes on. It’s safe to say, it appears a fond past-time of humanity to judge and to shame. And we don’t have to be in 1600’s Salem!

Just because it’s 2017 don’t think this practice has stopped. We can find it in bullying, which incidentally, is the number one cause of teen suicide. We can find it in work-place bullying which owes a distinction because it affects older people and is growing in prevelency world-wide. We can find it in older populations who are ignored, neglected, considered less important and ‘past it’ to be contributors. We can find it in minority groups and ethnic groups, same-sex relationships, gender roles and identity or lack of, and all the shades inbetween.

My grandmother used to say; People don’t like what they can’t understand and they don’t like difference.

So I guess, if you’re left-handed, queer, red-haired, freckled, hazel-eyed and autistic you might feel left out.

Okay so that’s an extreme but how many of us don’t entirely fit in some way?

You only need to be into one thing others aren’t, or not like wearing dresses, or burn instead of tan, or have darker pigment than your other family members, to experience the feeling of shame imposed upon you by a bizzare set of ideals and rules.

In other words it’s modern society or as I like to call it, torture.

Except this didn’t start just recently, it started when we began to communicate with each other (read Vanity Fair the novel if in doubt) we use shame and shaming as a coping mechanism (attack other before we are attacked) a weapon (divide and conquer) and a tool (defeat the others first, win). Society is a battle-field. For the mentally ill they are easy targets, who among us who struggles to get out of bed in the morning can handle much more?

Even when someone doesn’t know it, they can shame others. It is very common place to say things without meaning them in a bad way. Perfectly ‘good’ and kind people can inadvertantly say something that can be taken the wrong way ‘I wish you felt better!’ and pain ensues.

Obviously you don’t want to walk around on tiptoe when talking to someone who is suffering, but at the same time, just as we should be aware of the sensitivity of other subjects we should consider the sensitivity of how we address depression and other mental diseases.

Not everyone who is bipolar is a mass murderer or school shooter

Not everyone who is schizophrenic will kill their parents

Not everyone who is depressed will jump off Golden Gate Bridge

But some may and those tiny minorities are but the extremes. Beneath those few extremes lie shades of grey. The depressed person who cuts themselves, the anorexic who develops heart problems, the BPD who alienates people and ends up alone, the bipolar or cannot read a book, and so it goes on.

Everyone has something. If we remember that, then we can treat mental disease the way it should be treated, as a disease, an illness, but not the sum of a person, only an element of their whole. Something to be conscious of, aware of, sensitive to, without stereotyping the whole.

The best technique in the world? Listen to what a person has to say. You can learn a lot. And by doing this, you afford an opportunity for your friend to speak about things without a feeling of shame or judgement. In the long run this acts much like talk therapy and can be incredibly cathartic as well as a really good way of realizing, mental illness doesn’t define you.

Mental Health Month “You have everything going for you! Why are you still sad?”

One of the most common issues with people suffering from a mental illness that produces depression of some kind (and many do, as well as many diseases whose byproduct can be depression, such as Parkinson’s Disease) is; My life is good, I know that, and everyone else knows it and often they ask me – you have everything going for you, Why are you still sad?

Does the problem seem obvious?

And yet … given how many people are routinely told this BY PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM there is some disconnect.

Why?

I will tell you, someone I was close to used to say this all the time about ‘other’ depressed people but never myself. It became obvious if I were not me, they would be saying it about me, and not saying it, doesn’t mean not thinking it. The rush to judgement expressed by those looking in from the outside can be as damming as any mental illness symptom. It can leave you feeling worthless, ungrateful, evil, wrong-headed, greedy and crazy.

But ask yourself this …

If depression were cured by ‘having everything’ many people who are depressed would not be depressed. After all, whilst we know certain economic factors can exacerbate depression (money worries, chronic health issues, chronic poverty) there is nothing to say the rich suffer less than the poor. But if the commonly held belief that ‘having everything’ should prevent depression why is anyone with a good life depressed?

Quite simply because depression doesn’t owe its existence to circumstance. Circumstance can trigger, evoke, worsen, any mental illness (or physical one for that matter) but it doesn’t always cause it. Again, we have to be mindful that there are varying degrees for everything. You can be temporarily depressed about the loss of a job, you can be medium-term depressed about the loss of a parent, or you can be Dysthymic meaning you have long-term-unremitting depression. Otherwise known as Clinical Depression.

Assuming depression or other mental illness, is not fleeting and circumstance based, then it’s fair to assume, circumstance would have little effect on its ‘cure’

That’s like saying I got cancer from smoking if I quit my cancer will go into remission. Not so easy.

Most people don’t ‘get’ depression, most people develop depression over time, for a multitude of reasons and non-reasons. It doesn’t occur over-night (except in the circumstantial kind) but it can rear its ugly head over night once established. Hence why depressed people are often considered ‘flaky’ because with the best will in the world, the next day you just can’t.

So … why are you still sad? Because if you could do anything to stop being you would and you probably have (done nearly everything) and (clearly) it hasn’t worked sufficiently to ‘cure’ what ails you and turn you into Pippi Longstocking.

Next time someone effectively accuses you of ‘not being happy enough’ (read: Not grateful enough) for your ‘wonderful life’ remind them, depression is not a choice, anxiety is not a choice, doing yoga and appreciating a tree is not going to turn you into a different person over night.

That doesn’t mean change cannot be a positive thing – it goes almost without saying that we know certain life-choices make HUGE impacts on depression/anxiety et al. I could fill a blog JUST on those choices and that’s why I’m not, because there are tons of blogs out there, just google ‘how to cure depression’ and you will find them.

But after you have done all that IF you still feel the way you did before or some semblance of it, do not let others bring you down further by feeling you are an ingrate.

An ingrate is someone who has a fabulous life and doesn’t appreciate it.

A depressed person is someone who (might have a fabulous) life and is unable to fully appreciate it because of their mental illness (but boy do they try!)

Keep trying! One step at a time. We break the stigma by sharing our voices.

Between

ring1Good day then

fais de beaux rêves

between the spectacle

shut your eyes tight

always keep them open

conviction

affliction

conducting weather veins

bristling they ebb

pointing into heavens

would they could talk

up there up there

they look and mock our drama

what we believe ourselves to be

quietly observant at the pew

head down knees knocking

Forgive me Father for I have sinned

the day I turned on others and rubbed in

the same welt

gory and open for flies

to lay their magnitude

little children

little liars

come hold hands by the roses

learn a thorn can prick but words are mightier

wielding penchant for harm

like a crystal ball

hear the soft foot fall of night

clothe us in redeeming disguise

fingers behind our backs twix crossed

one for ourselves, one for luck

nothing left to add to the stew

all poison all venom all malice is

but easy fitting shoes on lusty urge

stay your hand my girl

spend time among the rich of heart

they hold less in their pockets

more in their eyes

as first rays of morning

broker subsuming clouds

of darkness

breaking past

releasing

light

Portraiture

f801918ca3883a4898de8530a0e88a98It is true if I could I would claim you through time

circle your coiled hair and patent smile

did the photographer pose

or you just know

how to swan your neck and hide your pain

in thrice mended sweater a size too small

our boiled wool and best kept stockings

sweating out youth

if now you lived I’d show you what came after

austerity and lit eyes of hazel

wishing into the future

is it better now? or then when

the greatest harm an unmarried pin

sticking your freedom to the quick

you laced yourself in and breathed out

coal dust and fisherman’s hands

chaffed and reddened by toil

ancestors enriching highland soil

would we have been friends?

my lack of Godhead your penchant

for John Bunion and his sermon

who can say? only the field mouse’

small and mauve in death

brought in by cat laid carefully by farm-house mat

beyond a sewing room where you cobbled looks from Paris

on muslin form, breathing life

I was clumsy and wide waisted in compare

climbing trees watching for the worm

as magpie attracted to beauty

is not capable of wearing his fine theft

he is a creature of the outdoors

looking in from cleft of oak

like I summon you through time

spend a moment here

lend me strength

show me how

you endured the fallow path and

hard winter of turning twenty

as light leaches from heathered hills

and tired men return for their supper

only the fair-headed girl lingers

until last golden arc presses against

violet hour and she too must

return her gaze to humbler pasture

Quiet sincerity

575d3e8450d2b93d9ae583716b569a05I learned

long after I should

friendship comes not

in fizz and pour

nor the brightness of

shower and radiance

nor promise and its papery craft of bows

but more often unexpected slow

hesitant over years

water leaving her tears on

marble rock

stalwart and less demonstrative

a cat who watches food put out

does not immediately approach

I fell for the fireworks

the hot kiss on lost ego

glittering words

feathered protests to believe

those party animals in their tinsel crowns

pushing me toward celebration

in those days I did not mind

the quiet soul who hung back

someone you could call upon

when deserters ran out of festivity

turned their backs on former animation

I was suckered by their demands to believe

their loudest call was truth, hear me!

now I know quiet love is the steadiest

those who may seem cold or aloof

often outlast town crier

hawking themselves for fancy

I’m sorry it took me so long to

understand silence and softness

are more often truth

much like the piper who

sung children through the mountain

bewitching their longing for loud

merriment

before they grew and knew

the sweetness of sincerity

whispered

Cast in open mouth

Fickle her words

imprecise

imperfect

slices of lemon

squeezed on cuts

cast in open mouth

let the plaster envelop

emotion

I suppose it’s her need

to inflict harm

when her own heart devours

when lust points compass

and mercy

mercy does not show

for role count

instead choosing

to sit out turn

bashing heels against

old radiators

trying to keep warm

this is the danger of

sore hearts

seeking solace

in the unknown

corridor of others

tempered souls

watchful against

storm