This is a piece from my daily writing practice that I cleaned up a bit and submitted to this magazine.
You can find it here.
I am offering a free writing seminar this Saturday, February 27th at 9:00 AM PST. The class will teach you how to get published in magazines. If you are a mental health writer, or caregiver, please sign up! I hope to see you there.
Link to register:
Please check out my introductory essay for my new series on Drunken Boat. The series will cover mental illness in art.
The title is, Bright Lights and Dark Corners
The letter I wrote to Santa last week was posted on People Magazine’s website. You can check out the article here.
I am spending the day with family and friends. I hope you are, too.
I’ll be back on Saturday with a troubling story, but one I think needs to be discussed.
If you celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas!
acitivist, advocacy, Advocate, bipolar, camping, cars, cosmopolitan, fun, inner child, inspiration, magazine, mental health, mental illness, mentally ill, mentor, murder, paranoia, psychiatry, psychology, schizophrenia, stigma, suicide, writing
Yesterday I was exhausted. I was so tired and beat.
I wrote a letter to Cosmopolitan about this article.
The article is about a woman who has bipolar disorder and she has a psychotic episode and walks herself and her niece and nephew into on-coming traffic. They all die. The mother of the two children that died was the mentally ill woman’s twin sister. The article says the mother of the children has forgiven her sister and has started an advocacy organization to raise awareness about mental illness. The article uses a sensational headline, and of course, the mentally ill woman in the story committed a murder/suicide.
I pointed out the stereotypes in the article, the sensational title, and asked Cosmo if they really wanted to contribute to the stigma already surrounding mental illness. I also asked them to do a fair and balanced story of someone living successfully with a severe mental illness. Who knows who will read my letter, and if they consider what I wrote.
I also heard from that writing organization I wrote about a couple of weeks ago that I said discriminated against me (I had to take the post down due to paranoia, otherwise I would link to it here). The woman who called was very sweet and sincere and told me all of the people she works with felt awful about what had transpired with me and my application for a mentor. She told me the program was set up to reach people who normally are under-represented and don’t have a voice. Of course I explained that people with a severe mental illness are one of the most marginalized groups in the country. We spoke for a long time. She listened to me. She heard me, and I told her she was brave and courageous to call me not knowing what kind of response she was going to receive from me. I really appreciated the call. I felt validated. I felt included. I felt I had spoken my truth and been heard. I was weepy on the call and all day long. I am still a little bit weepy.
Then I had to take care of a household situation. I may not be good at housework, and I may not be good at cooking, but in my house if something comes up with a medical bill, insurance, credit card fraud (it has happened to us five or six times in the past two to three years), or anything like that, I am the one who handles it.
Well, the car we just bought had a rattle. We took it to a Honda dealer and they said it had been in an accident. This wasn’t disclosed to us when we purchased it. I spent most of the day on the phone with people trying to figure out how to handle this situation. I called attorneys, I called the corporate office of Honda, and I called the dealership where we bought it. Because of the possibility of severe paranoia, I did not want to hire an attorney. I finally found a way to resolve the issue directly with the dealership. They said they will inspect the car again and if they made an error, they will make it right with us. The calls and fact gathering took a good part of my day. It was draining to be continually weighing the consequences of a deep and long lasting bout of paranoia if the situation got confrontational or hostile. Thankfully, I think it is going to be resolved in the most positive way possible – directly between the two parties involved – us and the dealership.
Lastly, over a week ago we had a heat wave and moved a mattress from the spare room into the living room so we could sleep near the air conditioner. The weather has cooled down, but I am having so much fun sleeping in the living room. It is like a camping trip. Last night, after all that had gone on during my day, my husband didn’t have the heart to move us back into the bedroom.
I slept in the living room again last night and my husband made me popcorn to eat while I was curled up in front of the television. Then he told me, “There are times when I think you are twelve.” And we both laughed, because the child in me is so alive and so present even after one of the toughest days I have had in my recent memory.
It is hard to know your limitations when you are mentally ill – the limits that keep you from crossing the line in your mind and losing touch with reality, but it is essential to try and find them, honor them, respect them, and live inside them. And when you are successful at it, allow yourself to sleep in the living room and eat popcorn. Who cares if people think you act like a twelve year old? I can’t have my armor of protection on all the time – I need to be allowed to play so I have the energy for the next round.
I hope we sleep in the living room through the weekend.