Tag: life with mental illness

Your Light is Equal to Your Dark

This broadcast is brought to you completely by chance and my inability to go to sleep now that Philip is back from New York and I’m perfectly free to go to sleep and not be a sick single parent.   This physique and brain are perverse and as soon as I am off duty I can’t calm down, sleep, relax, or shut the brain faucet off.

Philip has been in New York Since Saturday night and returned in the wee hours last night.  I’ve gotten up for four mornings in a row and navigated the crabby child through his ablutions (rituals) while swallowing knives and gasping for air because I have the delightful seasonal disease whose flavor is:

chest cold with hard acceleration to bronchitis

shortness of breath

tightness of chest


sore throat (the knives!)

Anyway, I say this every single time, I’ll say it again: single parenting SUCKS and I take my hat off to all you amazing people who have done it successfully.

In addition to the usual joys of raising a kid who has a difficult relationship with food and the world, this week has seen Max landed in the principal’s office for singing a verse or two of the Weird Al Yankovic song about being fat to a couple of kids who (apparently) are a little on the largish side.

Plus he had the flat out audacity to deny that I am myself fat and might take offense at having a Weird Al song directed at my corpulence.

This was a hard sell since I could barely keep a straight face in trying to take this whole thing seriously.  I mean, what he did was NOT NICE but hardly constitutes more than an insensitive barb being thrown at a couple of kids.  And it was WEIRD AL YANKOVIC.

I am so fixated on the fact that my kid is into Weird Al that there is no way I could take offense at having his fat song sung right in my face.

And this is why my kid is going to end up in jail and be a very bad person.  Because I fail to take this as seriously as the principal did.

Please believe that I did have a very long and serious talk with Max about how his actions must have made the largish kids feel.

It used to take throwing punches to get sent to the principal’s office when I was a kid.  You know what kids do?  They tease each other and hurt each other’s feelings.  You know who’s kids have never done that?

The number is too small to even record.  EVERY KID DOES THIS AT SOME POINT OR ANOTHER.  EVERY KID.

I have much more serious problems to worry about with my kid than him being insensitive via Weird Al.  So excuse me if I have a hard time feeling as horrified as I should.  It’s kind of like when Max comes home and tells me that a kid called him an idiot.  I say “Well, are you an idiot?” and Max tells me he’s not an idiot, he’s smart.  So I ask him what difference it makes to him if some kid tells him he’s an idiot if Max knows for himself that he’s not?  The point is that the kid has stuck him with a barb meant to hurt him and it worked but it is nothing more and there are two things Max can ask himself in any similar situation:

Is the insult true?  If so, perhaps it indicates something he can work on.  If it isn’t then it’s nothing.  Max must let it go.  Max must know his own worth.

Then I tell him his worth because that’s my job.  And because I love him.

I’m having a little writing crisis.  I just started the third draft and am not sure if my first chapter is even necessary.  Three damnable people have mentioned “taking a break” and I rail and scream and pound the walls because I’m on fire with this goal, with the mountain being half climbed, with being closer to realizing my life’s potential than I have ever been before and I don’t want to take a step back.  I want to work.  I want to blaze through it.

What I want is someone else’s perspective but everyone I know who could give me the kind of perspective I need is too busy to read right now.  So Philip (one of the damnable people) has asked if he can read the second draft.  I have to say I’m a little scared to let him read it.  He’s actually an amazing editor but I don’t need an editor yet.  There’s also this terror that he won’t like it, that he’ll think it’s crap.  After eighteen years of being married to him I still want him to be impressed with what I can do.  Aside from my awesome ability to get fat and alienate people.  Letting someone read your second draft is like-

You know, I can’t finish that sentence because at this hour the only expressions that come to mind are all coarse and inappropriate in one way or another.

Raw.  A second draft is still raw.  Not as much as the first one.  Once you get this far it isn’t daunting to do another draft.  Once you get this far you are so invested in your work it’s a matter of great pride to make the work of so many hours better than you thought you could make it.  I feel the push in myself to make it count because I might die of this pestilent new year.  Pulled muscles, strep throat, bronchitis, fatigue, and more of the same muscle getting pulled again and again- I’m not so robust this year.

It’s okay.  The main thing is to get a better version of this novel written before I kick it.

I haven’t even gotten to mention the scary-strong garlic and greens soup my mother made for us.  A truly healing soup (it tasted like medicine) because she’s had bronchitis for a month.  Plus vertigo.

Plus my dog wants to kill her cats.

Her dog wants to eat our house.

It’s all going to be fine.  I feel almost certain that I won’t die until I’ve taken my novel past the raw stage.

Thank god for child psychologists.

The kid is going to the pediatrician to discuss medications.  Not for the ADD but for the OCD.  Yes, it’s come to this.  I know how a lot of people feel about medicating children for anything mental.  If my kid had diabetes no one would suggest I withhold insulin from him but these brain issues scare the crap out of people.  Lots of people don’t even believe they’re real.

There are a lot of people who still think ADD is a euphemism for a rowdy child who just needs a firm hand and a parent who isn’t too lazy to keep them “under control”.  I am feeling a lot of anger at such people lately.  There is no longer any excuse for people to “not believe” in mental illness and mental disorders.  Pictures of the brain are proving a lot of things psychologists and neurologists and doctors have been theorizing about for years.

Max’s psychologist told us that strep throat makes OCD symptoms much worse and sometimes makes previously undiagnosed OCD present itself.  Why?  How strange!  How improbable!  He says that strep throat affects the part of the brain that controls the same functions that are affected by OCD.  It’s too bad I can’t explain it like he did.  It’s totally fascinating.  He says they’ve got images of brain activity during strep infections that prove this.

I’m going to have to deal with my anger over the rampant ignorance about mental disorders in some way.  I imagine I’ll hash it out here, like I always do.

My heros are all the people who have mental disorders and have no shame, discuss it openly, let it be a part of their everyday story, who share out loud and foster understanding and brave ridicule and censure to bring light into the still medieval views so many people have about brain function.  My heros are all the people who live with mental illness, who get through each day so that they can help others through the turgid waters of mental dysfunction to find their gifts.

There is a median for everything, a spectrum for normalcy that includes a median along which most people lie, but which has infinite variation.  We all fit on there somewhere.  Not normal is on either end of the spectrum with the averages falling closest to the middle.  No matter who wants to believe there is no such thing as “normal” or “abnormal”, there is.  But it doesn’t have to be a negative thing.

Those who daily have to struggle through a quagmire of inefficient brain function, often rendering their experience (and therefore their expression of) the world dark and dangerous, have in them the ability to effervesce with a corresponding light.

However dark your darkness, your light is equal.