Tag: depression

Do Better, Henry

I recently read a Spin article discussing the stance Henry Rollins took on the topic of suicide via his website; that it is a selfish act, rather than something depressed and desperate people fighting mental illness do because they can no longer tolerate the pain of being alive.*

I used to be ignorant too, because I was genetically “blessed” with the opposite of depression: I am diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic disorder with associated agoraphobia. So rather than “pick-me-up” pills like anti-depressants, my brain functions better with “calm-the-eff-down” pills, which I take daily, with success.

Because I had never experienced depression growing up, I never understood it. I had always felt happy to be alive, grateful to be given every day I received, and I too, used to think depressed people simply needed an attitude adjustment. Back then, I might have nodded my foolish head along with Henry Rollins as he recently stated: “Fuck suicide. Life isn’t anything but what you make it.”

In my youth, I wasn’t openly dismissive of the depressed, but would privately think, “Why don’t they just get some fresh air and take a walk, exercise, read a book, or go be with nature?” because these were things that comforted or uplifted me if I needed peace.

As if people are all the same. As if what worked for me would magically cheer up other people. As if my particular brain chemistry applied to all.

I was so stupid.

***

My 20s panic attacks were an occasional thing I attributed to either low blood sugar or asthma. I felt humiliated when they happened and lived in denial, because if they weren’t happening for a physiological reason, that made me one of the weak people who couldn’t handle life; one of the people Henry Rollins has spoken out against with his disdain** for depressed people.

What I didn’t yet understand is that anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental illnesses DO happen for physiological reasons, and are as beyond the control of the person experiencing them as any other illnesses.

If I had been experiencing seizures because of a chemical imbalance in my brain, for example, I would have immediately headed to a doctor for anti-seizure medication. But because so many people chastise those with the brain chemical imbalances behind mental illnesses and dismiss them as weak, I’d bought into this theory, too.

So I didn’t seek help, and would instead try to hide when the panic attacks happened in public. When my chest would tighten and I’d begin to gasp for air, when my vision would start to tunnel, when I’d drop my basket in the middle of the store and run for my car, soaked with sweat, my heart-pounding, and when I’d have a panic attack in the car while driving, pulling into the closest parking lot to cry tears of terror, I was bewildered because I had no idea why my body was doing this.

And I was ashamed. So very ashamed. I am weak and pathetic, I’d think to myself.

And I was terrified, wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Am I dying?

But then the mean, all-logic, no-emotion voice in my head would chastise me.

“Come on, you wimp. Pull up your big girl pants and move on,” my inner drill sergeant would bark, “You’re lucky to be alive, somebody always has it worse than you, and you have no reason to be crying, so get on with it!”

I’d take deep breaths, finish crying, feel utterly humiliated by my self-perceived weakness… and I’d eventually get on with it.

***

Cut to me at age 34, a book-loving, classic introvert with severe social anxiety. In bars and at parties, I used alcohol as a natural sedative to function amongst people without breaking out in hives. At work with the public, I wore an over-compensatory cloak of extreme friendliness to hide my social fears that employers loved, as an always smiling, non-confrontational employee makes any company look great.

(I waited on Henry Rollins while working at a Trader Joe’s in West Hollywood, by the way. He was always very kind, polite, and really loves cheese popcorn.)

I had been playing in bands for the last 12 years, which people who really know me have trouble understanding, considering my anxiety. The best way I can explain it is that onstage, I got to be someone else, and that girl wasn’t the shy, awkward chick who couldn’t make small talk to save her life. (It felt like an acting role. It was a beautiful escape from The Unbearable Lightness of Being Me.)

Then I got married, pregnant, had a baby at 35, moved from Los Angeles to Tulsa, and was suddenly isolated from all family and friends, no longer playing music, while staying with a lovely and kind member of my husband’s family.

The once-carefree, guitar playing and singing rocker chick was now alone all day in the suburbs with a 2-month-old who didn’t sleep more than 2 hours in a row until his 9th month (and stopped napping at 2-years-old).

We now know his sleep issues were symptoms of his ADHD/gifted neurology, but at the time I just thought I was doing everything wrong, as new parents are wont to believe. I was deliriously tired to the point of hallucinating, and… BAM. I experienced depression for the first time in my generally happy life.

I need 8 hours of sleep a night to function, and I was now going on months without REM. Sleep deprivation is used as torture for very good reason. I think this, combined with roller-coaster-ing postpartum hormones, had everything to do with my depression, and I hazily remember tears pouring down my face as I fed the baby.

I was strung out, wrung dry, beyond exhausted, alone without the support of my family or friends, and for the first time in my usually positive, high-energy life, everything felt pointless.

I logically knew I was the luckiest woman alive, with a healthy (albeit sleepless) new baby, a husband who loved me and treated me well, a roof over my head, and food on the table.

But despite all logic to the contrary, my emotional side simply couldn’t grasp that I had no real problems and nothing about which to complain. Sadness was sitting on my shoulder like an unwanted gargoyle of misery, and I couldn’t shake the ugly bastard off, no matter what I tried. Exercise didn’t work anymore. Nature wasn’t cutting it. I was officially depressed.

Possibly the weirdest thing about my depression was that I didn’t even have the will or desire to complain… I just felt kind of numb. I’m a lot of things, but numb isn’t usually one of them. I’m a fighter of injustices. I’m a complainer. I kvetch. I speak up – like I’m doing right now. The numb feeling was my main clue that things were very, very off inside my brain.

The old me that could look optimistically into the future, the girl who simply appreciated “every day above ground” was gone, and in her place was a drained and empty shell that couldn’t figure out where she’d misplaced her hope. It was so weird to logically know all was okay, yet emotionally feel a huge disconnect. I had no reason to be depressed. Nonetheless, I still was depressed. But logic and emotion, as we all know, are two completely separate things.

I had a new understanding about the physiology of mental illness, and oceans empathy for anyone experiencing depression. I vowed to never be of the callous, unsympathetic “People who commit suicide are selfish!” mindset again. Because I wanted to stop feeling sad more than anything in the world, and there was no way to “choose” happy anymore. I finally realized that for many people, happiness is not a choice.

And it’s insulting and cruel to say this. Are you really telling depressed people they’re choosing to be miserable?

I stopped breastfeeding at 6 months, even though I’d wanted to continue for at least my son’s first year. But I needed sleep. My brain chemistry was obviously imbalanced and I was horrified by the fact that I couldn’t escape the fog of sadness. I never reached the point of suicidal thoughts, but I’d definitely checked into Hotel Hopeless, and that was scary enough.

I started getting more sleep, and very slowly, the fog of depression lifted for me.

Because I got lucky.

***

I was entering my 40s before I finally spoke to a psychiatrist about my anxiety, and the only reason I did this was because my hyperactive son needed a calm mommy, and the panic attacks were now happening on a near-daily basis. Only because I could no longer function as a parent (as “leaving the house” is necessary for that job) was I forced to the doctor.

I got on daily Xanax and the panic attacks stopped immediately. I feel no euphoria on the medication, and only like a calmer version of myself who doesn’t go straight into “fight” mode at every perceived threat. The medication gave me back my life, gave my husband back his wife, and most importantly: it makes me a better mother for my son.

I only wish I’d sought help years ago. I’ve wasted so many years living in fear, and it’s partly because people like Henry Rollins who equate mental illness with selfishness made me feel like the chemical imbalances in my brain were a sign of weakness, and something I could control. Because my life isn’t anything but what I make it, right, Henry?

Wrong. And fuck anyone who thinks so. I now know I’m not weak, as I once believed – I’m actually incredibly strong for dealing with my anxiety alone and without help for so long. And I feel the same way about every depressed person on the planet – yes, even if they kill themselves.

***

Two of my mom’s brothers (my uncles) committed suicide in their 20s. They held onto life as long as they could stand it, and killed themselves because the pain of being alive was unbearable, and I don’t see anything selfish in that. It just makes me feel really, really sad for them. Because I have empathy.

Mental illness is legitimate and real, and it’s time we stop making people feel ashamed and alone for physiology beyond their control by ostracizing them for their “icky” feelings because we’re too uncomfortable to talk openly about them. Everyone has a different life perspective, and everyone is allowed to interpret their experiences any way they will, without shame.

What might be “no big deal” to one person can severely traumatize another, because we’re not fucking robots.

Pain is not a contest.

And showing pain is not a sign of weakness.

You’re not stronger than the person dealing with mental illness because you’re handling rough situations better than they are; you might have simply gotten a luckier roll of the genetic dice.

Or maybe you compartmentalize bad things more efficiently.

Or maybe they’ve been pushed over the edge into darkness, and you haven’t yet. Who knows?

But maybe instead of feeling cocky or stronger than them, you could try feeling grateful or compassionate.

Or shit… feel whatever the hell you want to feel… but please stop shaming others for their feelings, because you’re making them feel too humiliated to seek help, and that’s just mean.

 

What anyone who thinks depression is a “choice” made by people who aren’t “making their lives into what they should” needs to realize is that the one thing in the world depressed people wish they could be more than anything else is happy.

 

Nobody “chooses” depression.

 

All Henry Rollins has done with this ignorant opinion is potentially shame people suffering from depression by making them feel weak and pathetic, and possibly too embarrassed to seek help.

 

Way to go, Henry.

 

 

*I am not linking the website of Henry Rollins because I don’t want to increase website traffic for someone with an intolerant and uncompassionate view of mental illness.

 

**Actually, on his website, Henry Rollins spelled the word disdain as distain, but as an English major and Hall & Oates fan from way back, I can’t go for that. (No can do.) Both are official words, which is probably why he didn’t catch it with spellcheck, but in this context, he was clearly using it to mean “scorn or contempt,” which is the definition for disdain.

 

Also: Here’s an excellent article about suicide I highly recommend:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-hurley/theres-nothing-selfish-about-suicide_b_5672519.html

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5 Things to Kindly Keep in Mind with People Processing Violence

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Children learn what they see, so please, lead by positive example. Psychologically healthy parents protect their children, they don’t hit them. Fear and respect are not the same thing, and children deserve to feel safe.

 

People who’ve survived any form of physical abuse or threat are often left with hard-to-heal emotional scars. The damage can take many forms, such as: sexual molestation, rape, being physically struck or beaten, experiencing danger, and military service. But no matter how personal safety violations are inflicted, any may lead to psychological dysfunction.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, dissociation, denial, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are some issues experienced by humans whose nervous systems have been pushed beyond their limits. People who experience assault-based trauma are more likely to develop PTSD, but everyone has a different level of stress they can handle before becoming permanently overwhelmed. Because all humans are different, there’s no way to predict psychological disorders, and no guaranteed cures.

Some common symptoms felt by those who’ve been in threatening situations may include hypervigilance, being easily startled, insomnia, never feeling safe, brain fog, irritability, an exaggerated fight-or-flight response, mood swings, and panic attacks involving dizziness, nausea, sweating, rapid heartbeat, tunneling vision, or a sense of impending doom.

Below are 5 things to kindly keep in mind while talking to people processing violence:

  1. The Compassion Competition—

One of the worst assumptions to make about a person affected by violence is that they lack perspective or don’t understand that somebody always has it worse. Abused people know they’re not the only person to which injustice has happened, and unless they’ve never been on the Internet, they’re obviously aware of life’s many atrocities.

Examples of this might be saying, “Well, at least THIS WORSE THING didn’t happen to you…” and giving an example of something you consider a greater wrongdoing.

This reaction completely invalidates the feelings of the person who trusted you enough to confide, and insults their intelligence. The fact that bad things also happen to others doesn’t magically erase the bad things that have happened to them, no matter where you’d place the abuse on your spectrum.

In short: Pain is not a contest. You can show empathy to more than one person at a time without dismissing the feelings of anyone. Because regardless of how someone was hurt, it always matters.

  1. The Dance of Denial—

Many victims of physical or sexual abuse find themselves alone with their pain because the topic makes others feel uncomfortable. This can be especially true if the person was violated by a family member.

Families sometimes brush unflattering stories about sexual or physical abusers under the rug because it’s hard to believe a relative is capable of such brutality. But this reaction can re-victimize people by invalidating their pain.

Often, rather than helping those harmed by a family member or stranger, friends and relatives defensively ignore the issue, allowing the perpetrator to get away with something evil. This lack of justice or support can severely hamper the healing process, because a person can’t heal from a wound nobody will acknowledge.

In short: Abuse at the hands of a stranger -or- a family member hurts, and all forms of abuse are abuse. Ignoring the “icky” can make those harmed feel like they’ve done something wrong, rather than the person who caused the damage. Listen, believe, and strengthen instead of shaming.

  1. The Blame Game—

If you ever feel like saying, “Well that person is a ____, so what did you expect?” or, “I just accept that they’re messed up, and ignore it. That’s just who they are!” about the person who harmed someone, go ahead and keep that thought to yourself, because it reeks of victim blaming.

You may have the best intentions, such as trying to commiserate with the person who’s sharing their painful experience with you. However, what they often hear instead is: “Shame on you for being stupid. You should have known what you were dealing with, and anticipated your own violation.”

In short: Nobody in a civilized society should ever have to expect violence. Don’t imply that people could have predicted their own abuse and avoided it, because this only makes you look uncompassionate.

  1. Downplaying the Damage—

There is nothing more unhelpful than someone telling you to “get over it” in reference to anything, including the violation of your personal safety. Unless you have the ability to crawl into another person’s psyche and assess how something has affected them, dismissing their damage can be downright dangerous.

Everyone has a right to feel safe, and whether you’ve experienced similar things or not, your decision that everyone else has to deal with emotions exactly the way you do is thoughtless and condescending, at best.

Being told you’re “histrionic” or to “put on your big boy/big girl pants” are examples of thoughtless advice, and often given by those who choose to live in denial, rather than being brave enough to deal with their problems. This form of blatant invalidation is heartless and harmful. If someone has the courage to face their personal demons, rather than attempting to humiliate them into silence because of your own cowardice, you might instead watch and learn.

In short: Gaslighting is gross. Stop trying to make people feel like they’re overreacting or incorrectly imagining their own abuse. Everybody’s emotions are valid, and your motives are questionable if you’d prefer people in pain “suck it up and move on.” If you feel this way, why don’t YOU move on… somewhere out of hearing range.

  1. No Pity Parties, Please—

Most people who’ve been hurt by someone else are furious that they were forced into the role of victim, and don’t enjoy it. Treating them with compassion is lovely, but viewing them with pity can be upsetting. Being helpless is the worst feeling in the world, and nobody who’s experienced it ever wants to feel it again.

The word “survivor” is preferred over the word “victim” by many because it implies strength, rather than weakness. Surviving doesn’t have to mean someone has survived a life-or-death situation, either—it simply means someone is trying to accept and cope with what’s happened to them.

In short: Nobody chooses to be abused, and treating people like they’re fragile or broken because of the violating actions of another can frustrate them. Let them know you think they’re strong for moving forward, despite those who’ve tried to hold them back. Survivors of abuse would much rather you celebrate their courage than pity them.

***

People on the path to wellness don’t appreciate roadblocks created by other humans, well-intentioned or not. If you truly want to help someone move past bad things that have happened to them, listen to and believe them, don’t invalidate their feelings, and try to empathize.

Kindness and understanding go a long way in this world, and by avoiding the potentially harmful reactions listed above, you might give someone the compassion and support they need to heal themselves.

Non-spiration: Choosing to Not Share Dumb Platitudes

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***

I don’t really mean to tell anyone to fuck off, but I am tired of this version of “inspiration.”

I would have written “WHATEVER” in place of the “FUCK OFF” actually, because if it works for you, great.

I guess.

Unless what you’re saying is stupid and thoughtless.

Then: WHATEVER.

I’m one-hundred percent done with the “words over a scenic background” approach to mental health and wellness. Can we just talk, please? Whatever happened to talking about things?

Are we becoming so stupid we can only share our feelings via short blurbs and quotes from other people placed over pictures of things?

Are these enjoyed by the same people who need pictures to point to when they order from restaurants?

I especially dislike the “Happiness is a choice!” graphic floating around in various butterfly and rainbow-laden forms lately.

Happiness is not always a choice.

Two of my uncles committed suicide, for example.

For my two dead uncles, happiness was not a choice. Death was the only “choice” they could visualize. They were mentally ill, and for this reason, people implying that my uncles chose to die rather than choosing happiness makes me feel stabby.

(It’s not that simple, but if you think it is, your brain might be. And wow, enjoy that, you lucky duck. Ignorance is bliss, after all. Keep “choosing happiness” with your fortunate blend of brain chemistry and genetics while all those silly depressed people who just don’t “get it” will keep choosing to die. Because gosh, they must not realize that all they have to do is choose happiness! It’s so easy! Hey, maybe you should write a book! You could CURE SUICIDE.)

When Robin Williams killed himself, there was Team He’s Selfish versus Team Suicide and Depression are Mental Illnesses Beyond the Control of the Sufferer. (Or something shorter and more concise than that. I’ll workshop it. I was on the team with the long name, obviously.)

Hey! Guess what, people who called him selfish? The autopsy confirmed what intelligent people already know… his suicide had many potential causes based on biology, not some weird, imagined desire to hurt the people he loved. He had Lewy Body Dementia, which likely contributed to his depression and suicidal thoughts, as it has been known to do to many.

For Robin Williams, happiness was not a choice. He was biologically messed up beyond his control, and calling him selfish for that is like calling someone selfish for a cancer diagnosis. Stop it.

So when someone shares this chirpy, oblivious-to-the-physiology-behind-depression message with me, that “happiness is a choice,” I not only think they’re a blithering idiot, I kind of want to throat punch them.

Or maybe I’d just say WHATEVER.

But you’d know what I really mean, wouldn’t you, friends?

***

Dear Diary #572

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572. That’s a random number. I don’t know how many times I’ve actually taken to the Internet to ramble about the mundane details of my life to nobody and everybody, depending on how bored the people of our fine planet may be, but it’s probably not in the 500 range. I’m a liar. Sorry.

I call these ‘Dear Diary’ entries because they’re extremely random, and make me feel much like a 13-year-old girl whining in my journal. It’s a living.

I’m writing. I haven’t done this in a long time. I’ve had a bad case of the why-the-fuck-should-anybody-care-about-your-stupid-life writing yips, and I’m trying to move past it. I write words for me, just like I used to write songs for me. It’s cathartic. If someone wants to read it, cool. If not, also cool. I used to not give a shit what anybody thought because no matter what, I was being authentic. I wrote songs because I had something I needed to get off my chest, not to impress anybody else, and I need to get back into this mindset.

This is not a fuck you mindset, just to be clear. It’s a fuck me and my stupid insecurities mindset. Fuck me. Stop caring what people think, you big dork, I say to myself. It’s only life. Don’t take this, yourself, or anything too seriously. Someday none of this will matter, so don’t let it get inside your head and matter now.

Nothing matters. Say it with me, kids. Nothing matters. And everything matters. All at the same time. Nothing and everything matters. Now who wants cookies?

This is also why I turn off the comments beneath my writings. Because I’m not writing to chat about or listen to notes on my feelings, and I’m definitely not wasting precious time responding to trolls. I’m writing because I feel better inside after I write. The end.

And because hot damn, I need a creative outlet. A stress outlet. A nervous energy outlet. A pull-up-the-lid-and-let-out-some-psychic-steam-before-I-explode outlet. Kindergarten through high school, I took dance classes or danced in my bedroom until I was soaked with sweat, sang in every choir class I could take, and I sat in my bedroom endlessly singing to music. In my 20s, I lifted weights, I ran miles, I learned guitar, I wrote songs, played guitar and sang in bands… and then I had a child. Insert screeching brakes noise.

My musical life stopped as my child and heart grew. But my brain never stopped moving. And my brain will slowly drive me crazy if I don’t give it anywhere to go. My brain is a hyperactive child tugging at my sleeve trying to show me all of the things in the world while pulling me in infinite directions all at the same time. My brain never stops. Viva la ADHD.

My brain then demanded I start writing words because pretending to be a poorly-aging rock star in crap bars doesn’t work so well with the whole breastfeeding and being the mommy thing. And I suck at drawing, painting, and art. So words it is, for my much needed creative outlet. Lucky you.

***

I’m about to take an Internet hiatus because the political screaming and racism all over social media and news sites has been doing my head in. I hate to hide when I need to be a voice, but I’m no good to anyone when I’m an anxious mess. And if I see one more hilarious hashtag with the word “matter” and ANYTHING in front of it except “blacklives” I am going to throat punch someone. People’s children are dying and that shit’s not funny. Check yourself.

Another stressor: my husband is in the process of scheduling hip replacement surgery, so I’ll need to be strong as he goes through the operation and months of physical therapy afterward. I’m going to be single-parenting while taking care of my healing life partner and two cats, and I don’t see anywhere jacking around on social media sites can reasonably fit into that schedule. Without the throat punching feeling, I mean.

***

I take these breaks to secure peace of mind from time to time, but this is the first time I’ve decided to put my computer away and completely abstain. No email checking. No Facebook. No news sites. Nothing.

I have a cute little writing-only laptop I use to work on the book a chapter at a time (you know… THE BOOK all writers are working on forever), and it doesn’t allow the Internet, so I’m going to write on that. Only that. I’m forcing myself to be productive and stop playing in the comments sections of Facebook, hoping for peace and productivity. Fingers crossed.

(Humiliating aside: I once said “Fingers crossed!” in a meeting with a college advisor who happened to have a hand condition. It looked like a possible thalidomide-related issue, as her fingers were fused, leaving her two on each hand. She typed faster than I do, and I was genuinely impressed. And then, because I’m an awkward idiot, I used the term “Fingers crossed!” about being able to finally finish my degree, and then I died inside a lot. We exchanged a look. There was a pause. And then I died inside some more. And this is why I don’t like to leave the house. Because I should probably not talk to anyone ever.)

***

My husband isn’t 70, by the way. We’re both middle-aged. We remember where we were when we first heard Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” song. He was really active in his youth, damaged his hip joint, and that caused a bad condition called avascular necrosis. (You know… the Bo Jackson/Brett Fav-rahh thing?) A lot of football players and people who throw their bodies very hard at not-soft surfaces have his issue.

This is because pretty much, when you beat the shit out of any part of your body, the tissue dies. Avascular = blood flow. Necrosis = death. Damaged bone loses blood flow, and the bone eventually dies. So my husband is on crutches and in pain. He had an MRI that revealed his hip has withered away and he needs the replacement he was hoping to stave off until retirement, which is over 20 years away. Didn’t quite make it. (He’s 6’5″ and gravity is a harder on his bones.)

He had a surgery in 2001 where they drill into the bone and try to make it grow back stronger, to no avail. He was on crutches for eleven months after that surgery. (He learned to play guitar and cook really well during that time, from which I now benefit.)

We checked out his MRI, and rather than looking smooth and round like the hip ball joint on the other side, his right hip ball looks like the surface of the moon. After mice have chewed on it. Giant space mice, I suppose. Anyhow, it looks bad. So the main body part thingy that holds him up on the right side is crumbling, and he can barely sleep because what used to be an often-pain is now a constant-pain.

It’s hard to watch someone you love in constant pain. I’m moving into depression when I need to be not-depressed for someone who needs me, because I will not selfishly make my poor husband’s dying hip about me. I’m really fighting the urge to slip back into the “my mom has stage 4 cancer” depression cocoon I crawled into a few years ago to join my good friends Netflix and too many carbs in a melancholy quest towards unnecessary weight gain. This means I’m drained, pissed off, and looking for an excuse to take out my frustration on anyone who fucks with me… and it’s definitely time to get off social media. (At least I’m mature enough to recognize this about myself, even if I can’t quite fix it. Sadly, this is progress for me.)

My Depression Netflix Jam was all seasons of Gilmore Girls during my mom’s cancer battle; this time I’ve been enjoying House, M.D. when wallowing freely about the cabin. I have been on my own financially since barely-17 and could never afford cable, so I didn’t bother with a TV. This means there are many shows and culturally significant events I completely missed. Thusly, I’d never caught an episode of either of these shows before Netflix. God bless Netflix.

With the need to be stronger than usual, getting away from the soul-draining bigotry, xenophobia, and other awful stuff online seems like a step in the right direction. I’m also grabbing naps without guilt where I can, and getting to the gym for gentle cardio. I might start yoga again. I’ve been reading a lot. I’m doing things that build me up, because the world seems to want to tear us all down right now, and I can’t handle that.

***

I’ve been spending a lot of time putting articles I wrote and sold when I worked in native advertising on this site because I have them on an external hard drive, but nothing lasts forever. I want to have them safely somewhere else for storage, and also, if I decide to write for a similar company again someday, I’ll have an easily accessed example of my “articles for people without much time to read” here for them to peruse.

I used to call them “articles for dummies” because the format is so basic: bold subheadings, numbered lists, titles that let the potential reader know there won’t be a huge time commitment involved if they click, etcetera. That’s the point. But they convey information I avidly researched and tried to present in a somewhat interesting manner, so I don’t consider them articles for dummies: I consider them articles for busy people.

You say “clickbait,” I say “people don’t want to spend 30 minutes reading long essays anymore… deal with it.” Technology is rapidly changing the average American attention span, whether we like it or not. (I actually don’t like it, but I accept it. I rebel against the dying of the attention span by reading multiple books a week and raising a child who loves to read.)

The job was great training for me, because as I’m sure is apparent while you skim this hot burst of my current brain steam, I’m a rambling writer. I write very stream-of-consciousness style, and don’t bother editing if it’s not a professional piece. But the native advertising job forced me to write within a 700-1000 word format, and it was excellent training. Concise has never been my strong suit. I can admit it. (I can also pose the question, “Why does everything need to be concise?” Can’t a girl ramble once in awhile without being shut down? WHATEVER, OPPRESSOR.)

***

My son has been nominated for the National Elementary Honor Society, which is really great because it’s not only offered to kids who get straight As; they have to meet behavioral standards as well. He’s working grades above average in all subjects, but this can often lead to boredom and disruptive behavior, like not being able to sit still or talking out of turn. So I was more impressed by the behavioral standards being met than the academic requirements. I tell him all of the time that there are many people out there with smart brains, but the person who works the hardest will win the job over the big brain every time. Work ethic > intelligence.

His teachers have also had to ban him from the computers because he hacks into them and changes the code. And they’ve told us verbatim that the FBI or CIA need to recruit him now because he’s so smart. I should feel proud, but I’m a little bit scared because we have no idea how to navigate the “learning about the online world versus keeping our child safe” conundrum. So that’s not causing me anxiety at all. Nope. No red wine being consumed in alarming rates in this house. Not here.

Anyhow… that’s my latest. If you’re reading this, I hope you’re well, friends.

xoxo.

 

P.S. I took a stupid Facebook quiz recently, called “What Is Your Subconscious Hiding?” and I got this:

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I laughed pretty hard at this result, but probably for the wrong reasons.

Join me?