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Life is good. Fuck you.

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Another day, another article surfaced on my feed about a parent trying to help others be aware of mental illness.

I’m so over it.

But that’s just how I feel today.

I’m sure tomorrow I’ll feel differently.

And I’m sure I’ll feel a million different ways over the course of the next year.

Today, though, I can afford to feel so over it because I’m feeling good.  Today my brain is cooperating and I’m ‘even’ – in terms of my ability to handle life’s combination of little and big disruptions.

Today I can focus and finish my deadlines.

Today I can think of ideas and write them down and follow through.

Today I can help other people. I have enough time and energy to do things for others.

Today I’m good.

But there will be another tomorrow in my life soon when I won’t be so good.

Unless my life is about to take a sudden turn away from its normal routine, there will soon be a day when my brain tells me that today is the day I need to end it.

Because that’s what my brain does.

My brain tells me to kill myself.

My brain tells me that killing myself is what I’m supposed to, what I’m fated to, and that everything is a sign that it’s time.

It’s what I got in this life.

Some people got diabetes. Some got heart disease. Some got cancer.

I got a bad brain.

I know, I know….you know of something I should try. I know.

Well, I’ve probably tried it.

I’ve been around the block and I’ve been dealing with this since I was a kid.

Add to that the fact that I’m a ‘fixer’ by nature.  I do something about problems. I take steps. I take action. I take initiative. 

Believe me….if it’s medical, I’ve tried it.

And I don’t just mean I’ve dabbled.

I mean I have devoted years to trying everything out there and doing everything in my power to help things work.

I have given everything I’ve tried a good and meaningful try.

If it’s western I’ve tried it. If it’s eastern, I’ve tried it.

Expensive? Tried it. Cheap? Tried it. Free? Tried it.

If it’s holistic, I’ve tried it.

If it’s spiritual, I’ve tried it.

If it’s hokey or trendy or popular or weird, I’ve tried it.

So, what’s my point today?

My point is shut the hell up if you have no personal experience with suicidal thinking.

I made the mistake of reading some comments to the devastated father who wrote so honestly, lovingly and bravely about his daughter who lost her battle with suicide.

And seriously, people need to shut the fuck up.

If you haven’t lived it, your opinion is shit.

I don’t care how enlightened you are, how educated you are or how inspired you are.

Just shut up.

And fuck you.

I know this post is negative.

I’m really sorry about that.

I’m not a negative person.

I’m positive. And hopeful. And productive. 

I’m funny and energetic and upbeat about some things.

I work full time.  And I have two syndicated properties, a cartoon and a comic strip.

I paint beautiful paintings. And I make lots of really great contributions that help others.

And, in addition to all of the great things I am, I live with a condition –  just like most people live with a condition of some sort.

Unfortunately, my condition is the opposite of “life is good” – 

But I’m dealing with it.

I’m managing it.

But it needs to be said that someday I might follow through on what my brain tells me to do.  

My brain is powerful and inflexible at times and more convincing than the people around me.

And if I do what my brain tells me to do, it won’t be for any other reason than what I was able to do to manage my condition was not enough.

So to the reader who shared a particularly unhelpful comment, fuck you.

Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

You’re not helpful. And you’re not smart.

You wrote something hurtful to a father in pain. And what you wrote sounded like a dare to people who don’t need to be dared. 

Look, sir….I’m not asking you to change who you are.

I’m just asking you to DO NO HARM.

You can do that by keeping your mouth shut and keeping your typing to yourself. 

And to the father who wrote the essay, thank you and I am so very, very, very sorry.

Now back to work for me….because although I live with suicidal thinking, that is just part of my day. And it’s not the part that pays the bills. 

xoxo, d

 

 

 

Not-so-Manic Monday

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I’m looking for an essay I wrote years (and years) ago. An essay about how, when men don’t call after amazing first dates, it’s only fair to assume they have died.

I’m looking for the essay for my buddy Jon Birger who wrote a book on why men appear to be disappearing.  And why I will be alone forever.

Oops. Sorry for giving away the ending, Jon.

Along the way to finding the essay, I found another billion essays.

One in particular caught my eye because of its commitment to a recurring (i.e., SO OLD) theme: what works and what just feels like it’s working.  It’s kind of like that age old question of whether you should strive for an A or strive to write a paper that actually takes a risk and explores some facet of your talent and intellect that may not guarantee the A.

For years, I didn’t fix certain things because the high of starting to fix them seemed like enough. I was an A student who just needed to get the A to keep moving forward.

Now, of course, as with most things, the high of an A isn’t high – it’s just a way to forestall anxiety about not getting the A.  So now, at the tender age of way-too-old-for-this, I’m trying hard to fix some of the fundamental conditions that invariably result in pain.

Enjoy the read, if you choose to read.  This essay would have been written around 2010.

 

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Observations of the information age, where everything evolves quickly. Except people

“What else should we talk about?” I asked the therapist.

We were only five minutes into our session when I ran out of material. I had already briefed him on the weeks of my life since our last visit. I reported my success in managing workplace stress and how I could now get through a day without a bottle of Tylenol. He, in turn, praised me on my follow through.

Good doctor. Good patient.

So now we were free to talk about anything. But nothing came to mind. I had sought out his guidance after experiencing one migraine too many and now the migraines were gone. I was running and meditating and breathing lots of fresh air, all quite conducive to relieving the pressures of a typical professional life.  In my book, we had accomplished our goal.

“What would you like to talk about?” he asked. He was finished writing notes in my file and appeared ready for some good old neurotic entertainment.

The truth was I didn’t want to talk. It was a beautiful day and I had many other tasks that needed my attention. I wanted to be excused. But I didn’t want him to think I was using him only in times of crisis – even though that’s exactly what I was doing.

I decided to talk and to see where my innermost thoughts led.

“I was really mad at my mother last week,” I offered, trying a little to remember her offense.

“What happened that made you upset?”

“I don’t remember. But I was definitely mad,” I assured him.

“And did you confront your mother about your anger?” he queried with only the slightest hint of interest.

“Of course not!” I laughed. “I told her I was tired of hearing her talk. She said ‘fine, I won’t ever talk again.’ And then we went to CostCo.

“And now? How do you feel now?” he insisted.

“Feel about what?” I mumbled, completely confused about whether we had even chosen a topic with which to soak up the remaining time.

I should have explained to this very nice man that I didn’t care about any issue unless it was immediately disrupting my life. I grew up in a house where nothing was allowed to fester for long and any hint of misery was quickly nipped in the bud. At the earliest indication of upset, anger, confusion, frustration or anxiety, my mother would descend with a heavy bang and yell “What’s wrong? Something is wrong.”

After the required dysfunctional dance of “nothing’s wrong” and “I don’t want to talk about it,” my mother would reach deep inside of our throats and painfully pull out the problem by its roots.

A tearful and emotional intervention fit for reality television would ensue. And then, my mother would matter-of-factly say “Let’s talk to someone about this!” Emotional issues were nothing more complicated than leaky faucets or creaky doors. The key was to find a professional who owned the exact set of tools necessary for a quick and final fix.

My mother would race to the phone, conducting a full-on aggressive campaign to identify the best expert for the job. She was inspired and determined as she explained the urgency of the situation. Within hours we would be in the car on the way to a highly recommended specialist.

“Just tell us what to do,” my mother would beg, perched on the edge of her seat with her stenographer’s pad ready to capture every audible sound.

It was rare that we visited a professional more than once after that first consult. More often than not, we returned only to report on our prideful success in carrying out the expert’s strategy. Again and again, we heard that we were incredible and that we would do very well going forward given our outstanding performance in the current challenge.

Whatever the problem, we were always fixed in an hour or so. Low self-esteem? One hour. Trouble focusing in school? One hour. Confusion about whether to put off college for a year? Thinking of murdering a sibling? That would be one hour. I was completely spoiled, convinced that we could fix anything with one phone call and an office visit.

But I wasn’t as efficient once I left home. I remember my first visit to a university counselor. I divulged an enormous and disproportional anxiety about turning in papers that were less than excellent. Within five minutes, she had resolved my episodic perfectionism and was searching for more interesting fodder. Perhaps I was obsessive, she opined? Did I find myself testing the lock on the door more than twenty times before being convinced it was secure? I tried to thank her and get out before she discovered real problems, but she tricked me into staying. She said she could help find the real me. It turned out that the real me was a comedian who visited her regularly for a year, regaling her with funny stories of how I talked myself down on a daily basis.

I didn’t return to therapy for many years. I was busy working and loving and learning to get through the normal burdens of an independent life. But when I went back, so many years later, I was convinced that I finally had enough conflicts to fill up an hour.

I was at a critical point, personally and professionally. Should I stay or should I go? Should I fight or should I flee? Rent or own? Boxers or briefs?

“I am easily a once-a-week patient,” I commended myself.

But the fact is that I was worse than before. I had become expert at resolving my life issues. I could easily anticipate what a counselor would say and I just wanted to get busy on following through. With useful tools like acceptance, meditation, Diet Coke and Dr. Phil, I could fix myself. Counselors were quickly becoming the middle man with high rates for overhead.

“Why are you here?” a new therapist asked?

“I don’t remember,” I said. “I made the appointment last week when I was upset, but now life is good. I have nothing to say.”

And for the first time ever, a therapist earned my trust.

“Well, then…life is fine! You should be happy! That was your goal, right?”

I agreed. I was fine and I was happy.

And then I set up a meeting for the follow week. I may not have a problem, but I’m not stupid enough to dismiss a therapist who works that fast.

 

Painting for Leo DiCaprio

 

I’m painting for Leo DiCaprio.

I can call him Leo. I read an interview (or ten thousand) with him. He says Leo is okay.

Perhaps you think it’s a metaphor.

Like I’m “painting for Leo DiCaprio“….. wink wink.

But no, I’m actually painting for Leo D.

I’m painting Leo a beautiful girl. One of my favorite girls.

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And I know someone who knows someone who can find someone who knows how to deliver the painting to Leo D.

When I began painting seriously (i.e., obsessively but sans talent or training) a few years ago, something told me to send a painting to Leo D.  Something told me he would like my paintings.

Because he loves art.

And because he loves beautiful women.

I like Leo DiCaprio.

You might be thinking I’m obsessed with him, but I’m not.

I think he’s gorgeous. And I think he’s ridiculously talented. And I like that he appears to be pretty cool in real life and not too into himself.

But I’m not obsessed with Leo D. or in love with him.

Well, maybe I am just a little.

But I swear I just really think he would like my paintings. Something in me says he would like them as much as I do.

And here’s the thing….I need to move to the next level with painting if I’m going to be able to paint more.  I need to start showing paintings or selling paintings or both.

And I really, really, really want to move to the next level.

There. I said it out loud.

I really want to do more with painting and less with my day job.

Leo DiCaprio was in one of my all time favorite movies, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

WEGG came out in the spring of 1994, which means I would have seen it in the spring of 1994.

In the 1990’s and the two previous decades, I waited for movies like people wait for mail.  I paced and anticipated and counted the minutes and then obsessed for hours and days about what had been delivered.

I was a bit of a movie snob back then, limiting my movies to foreign or at least mildly confusing or deep American films.

So Gilbert Grape was right up my alley.

Gilbert Grape was deep and dark and real and raw.

Even better, Gilbert Grape dealt with disability and mental illness.

I LOVED disability and mental illness back then.

I still love disability and mental illness. I just do a better job of balancing those passions more better with my other passions.

In 1994, I had just started my law practice.  I was focused on all things related to the Americans with Disabilities Act and I was intent on forcing the world to think about disability issues.

I was angry and frustrated and inspired and hopeful and I knew what I was doing was important.

Now I just want to paint.

And write.

And make funny cartoons.

And, if I can, I’d like to help someone avoid some of the pain I lived.

Because it took me way too long to learn how to live with pain.

So I fantasize about giving a painting to Leo DiCaprio.

And Leo gets the painting and loves it.

And he buys another painting or two from me.

And then he says, “Did you always want to be a painter?”

And I say, “No, Leo. Actually, I really just wanted to die. Because I have a messed up brain that feeds me bad messages. But I kept working and focusing and I stayed independent and now I’m ready to trade all of that for painting. First work kept me from making plans to die and now painting keeps me from making plans to die.  See how helpful the arts are to those living with challenges? Everyone needs to support the arts….for those art saves.

And Leo says, “You know, I’ve played a host of characters living with challenges.”

And I smile and say, “I know, Leo. Playing characters living with challenges helps those living with the actual challenges. You have no idea how much, but I do.  It’s really important to show the world those charactersand to help the world understand that living with challenges is just another way of living.”

And then I add, “You should know that What’s Eating Gilbert Grape really helped me. It came out at a time when I needed something to help me get by.  It helped me get by.”

And Leo blushes because he’s pretty humble.

And he says “You know, I just played that character. I’m not really challenged.”

And I say “Yes, but you cared enough about the part to live in that character and learn to understand that character. And then you shared that character with lots of people who hopefully saw a bit of themselves or their son or their neighbor in your portrayal.  Hopefully they connected with the character and realized how human the character was. Hopefully they saw that the character was living with a challenge…not just beating a challenge. You can’t beat every challenge.

And Leo says “You can do that with your paintings. You can share your characters with others who need to connect.”

And then I let Leo it was his idea.

*****

Speaking of sharing stories, I’ve been watching I Am Jazz with my nieces.

It’s a must watch. For everyone.

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It’s well done.

And it’s important in many, many ways.

And it’s heartwarming. And heart hurting. And sweet. And personal. And relatable.

It’s everything, just like life.

Okay, back to work everyone.

Happy Monday. Or something like that.

xoxo, d

 

 

 

Is Authenticity Overrated?

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Perfect for a Friday!

A really enjoyable Part 2 of the Getting to 6 Interview with Tim Kenney.

We talk about where we are on a scale of 1 to 10….and what living authentically means.

If you take a minute to answer our questions, we’ll have more to discuss blog-wise and for Part Three with Tim!

(1) On a Scale of 1-10, what is your 1 (worst) day and 10 (best) day?

(2) Where do you spend most of your regular (excluding outlier) days, from 1-10?

(3) Where do you WANT to spend most of your regular days?

(4) What is your favorite flavor ice cream?

Happy Friday!

xoxoxoxo, d

 

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