So I bought this:
And now I need to watch Gigi:
So I bought this:
And now I need to watch Gigi:
I joke about my anxiety and depression and OCD here quite a bit, because most of the time I’m in the right frame of mind to view those diagnoses as just another part of me, like being ridiculously near-sighted or having hay fever. When the meds and therapy and the planets are aligned, I can just shrug off my, um, quirks and make it through each day without dreading the next.
Last Thanksgiving, nothing was aligned. This Thanksgiving, I’m on an even keel because I finally did something I was terrified to do before.
And I got the help I needed — new meds, new therapist, support from my family. And that led to an infinitely better day job and a fantastic part-time gig that are finally resolving the financial problems that dragged me down in the first place.
But part of me is still resentful that I had to ask for help. Why didn’t anyone around me notice what was happening? All I wanted was someone to care enough to see my distress.
Logically, I know that no one else can see my anxiety and depression — because I work so, so hard at trying to hide it. That doesn’t make the bitter berries taste any better. The woe-is-me voice keeps saying “I shouldn’t have to ask.”
So. Here’s where I’m going with this.
(1) If you’re overwhelmed, send out the SOS. No one will think less of you. There is nothing wrong with taking meds. There is no shame in talking to a professional. Trust me on this — and trust your family and friends enough to be honest about your fucked-up brain.
(2) If you’re concerned about someone, don’t take “I’m fine” as the final answer. Ask questions. Be nosy. Please.
(3) If you’re an author, for the LOVE OF GOD, do your homework before using any kind of mental illness as a plot device or character trait. OCD is much more than being a neat freak. There is no Magical Orgasm Cure for agoraphobia. Panic attacks do not require a Tragic Past. Put your characters on meds and in therapy.
Thus endeth the lesson. Now, on to the Literary Analogies! Because this is a book blog, after all, not a whiny “let me dump my angst all over you” blog.
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”
That one was easy, right? Not quite. The real dementors of depression are invisible. They’re always there, hovering, waiting to infiltrate your brain and take hold. The coldness comes on so gradually you don’t even realize it. Chocolate does help, but the demons are never the “it’s all in your head” boggarts that can be laughed away.
However…there is a Patronus charm: “I need help.” It takes courage and practice, but it’s there. Sometimes you just need someone to teach you how to use it.
Hermione screamed in pain, and Harry turned his wand on her in time to see a jeweled goblet tumbling from her grip. But as it fell, it split, became a shower of goblets, so that a second later, with a great clatter, the floor was covered in identical cups rolling in every direction, the original impossible to discern amongst them.
…”They have added Gemino and Flagrante curses! Everything you touch will burn and multiply, but the copies are worthless — And if you continue to handle the treasure you will eventually be crushed to death by the weight of expanding gold!”
It took me a long time to figure this one out. Everyone knows the “black cloud” depiction of depression. We’ve all seen the TV commercials with blank-faced people huddled on the couch hugging a pillow. Every bit of that is true.
There is no universal metaphor for anxiety — because there are at least eleventy thousand different ways to be anxious and eight kajillion thing to be anxious about.
Yeah, everyone worries. Everyone gets anxious once in a while. But an anxiety disorder makes it impossible (and I am not exaggerating here) to turn off those thoughts. It makes your brain expand all those horrible thoughts and explode them all over the place and heat them up until you’re buried under a smoldering pile of what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-me-why-can’t-I-be-normal that will inevitably reignite and start the whole damn process over again.
Anxiety disorder also causes run-on sentences. There is no medical proof of this, but in some cases anecdotal evidence is enough.
And maybe next year, I’ll be thankful for my hard-won ability to make a simple phone call without Xanax.
Why am I geeking out about a Civil War battle, you ask? (I know you’re wondering, admit it….)
This is my great-great-grandfather, Edwin Atkinson, age 22, on the day of his mustering into Company D, 2nd Wisconsin (part of the famous Iron Brigade), in December 1862, in Madison, Wis.. Six months later, he was critically wounded during the first day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Born in Yorkshire, England, he was the youngest of eight children. The family moved to the United States around 1843, and were farming near Albany, Wisconsin, when the war broke out.
He married Julia Griffin of Albany, Wis., soon after arriving home; they had three daughters and 18 grandchildren. He died March 26, 1918, in Kamiah, Idaho.
That’s everything we know. Here’s what I’m dying to find out:
Why did the Atkinson family emigrate — with eight young children — to America in the early 1840s? Were they compelled by economic or political conditions in Yorkshire? Maybe they were losing their land and unwilling to become urban factory workers? Were they encouraged by family or friends who had already emigrated? How much did it cost to pack up and move a family of ten across an ocean? What was the crossing like?
How much schooling did Edwin and his siblings receive? Did his parents educate their children at home, or send them down the road to a schoolhouse? Was Edwin satisfied with being a farmer, or did he have other dreams?
At 6′ 1″, Edwin was significantly taller than the average male height of 5′ 7″. Was everyone in his family that tall? (That genetic trait continues on today…) Was he naturally dark-complected, or was he just permanently tan from hours in the farm fields? How did a tall, gangly farm boy adjust to a soldier’s life? What kind of training did he get?
I bought myself a few Mother’s Day presents. Because Santa didn’t bring me anything from my wish list.
These arrived on my doorstep this week….
The obsession started with watching the (wildly inaccurate) movie Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett. Then I found the book I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles at the library, and then I discovered Jean Plaidy, and the rest is…um…history (sorry, couldn’t resist).
The new additions will take their places of honor alongside….
And I read history without pretty pictures too!
Disclaimer: I’m not a trained historian, so I am in no way qualified to judge the veracity or scholarship of any of these books or authors. I’m just an average History Geek looking for great reads that tell (or show!) a great story and compel me to learn even more.
Last week I had to make a phone call that I knew was inevitable, but one I desperately wanted to avoid.
Jackie was a mutt from the shelter. Dog Snobs might call her a “mixed breed,” but she was A Mutt. A bit of pointer, lab, some kind of terrier, maybe cocker spaniel, who the hell knows. No clue how old she was either, but we brought her home from the shelter in June 1998. I’d never had a dog before, and we didn’t have kids yet, so she was my first pet and my first baby.
We named her Jackie after baseball hero Jackie Robinson. “Dizzy,” for Cardinals pitcher/announcer Dizzy Dean, was a close second — and probably would have been a better choice, because Jackie the Mutt was a lot more cute than smart. We flunked two obedience courses because she never quite mastered the “don’t pull on the leash” thing. So I just kept buying every possible kind of collar and harness and leash until I finally resigned myself to being dragged around the neighborhood by my 25-pound dog.
Jackie adored kids, laid claim to all the blankets in the house, and could hear a cheese wrapper from approximately three miles away.
She rarely barked, but possessed a remarkable ability to induce neighbors’ dogs into frenzies of growling and howling by simply ignoring them. We like to think she was gloating about her fabulous humans.
She traveled a circuit around the perimeter of the backyard to avoid the angry squirrels who threw things at her from the ginormous maple tree in the middle.
Humans putting on shoes were GOOD because it meant either A Walk or A Treat, but a Human with a Suitcase was BAD. And she hated – HATED WITH A PASSION – pedicures. When I eventually gave up on trimming her Killer Claws myself, she would attempt to fling herself into traffic every time we walked up the sidewalk to the groomer and the Industrial-Strength Nail Clippers of Doom.
But, weirdly enough, Jackie never, ever — not even once — hung her head out the car window, so we still have doubts as to whether she was actually a real dog or not.
[This was going to be a paragraph about how Jackie became more than just a pet during my divorce, but I just can’t go there yet.]
ANYWAY…Over the past few days, I’ve been listening to, and telling my kids, and telling myself, all the usual stuff like “It was the right thing to do,” and “She’s no longer in pain.” But dammitall, my dog was DIFFERENT and all those generic platitudes JUST AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH.
So I bought a book.
My kids are too old for picture books, but no reader is EVER too old for a picture book like this. I put this on hold at Barnes & Noble after making The Call and picked it up on my way home from work. As soon as they saw the cover and title, both kids knew that it was time for The Talk About Jackie.
My 12-year-old daughter (aka Thing1), glanced through it, and then said, “I know what happens, Mom, I’ve seen Marley & Me,” in her snotty tween-age voice before erupting into ugly tears and wiping her snotty nose on my sweater. But she clutched the book in her arms as we had The Talk, and she read it to her little brother before bed that night.
The nine-year-old little brother (Thing2), however, is A Questioner. Sweet Mother Of All That Is Holy, the QUESTIONS. And he never accepts “I. Don’t. Know.” as an answer — he’ll just keep asking the same question again in a dozen different ways. Uff da. I clearly did not not inherit whatever brilliant skill my dad had for Making Up Shit On The Fly That Trusting Children Believe Until They Graduate From College.
I answered Thing2’s eighty bajillion questions, most of which I’d answered 70 bajillion times before, as honestly as I could. The only questions that stumped me were the ones about cremation (managed to avoid direct answers on those), and of course, “But why does it have to be NOW? Why does it have to be TODAY?” Gah.
Dog Heaven prompted even more questions, and it couldn’t help me answer the unanswerable questions, but this book did lead us to doing to some Canine World-Building of our own.
In Jackie’s Dog Heaven, there are no suitcases or nail clippers, and the Mean Squirrels will cower in her presence. There will be garbage cans full of Happy Meal remains for her to nose through and nobody will care if she makes a mess of it all over the kitchen. Grandpa Phil will take her for walks and give her pieces of cheese whenever she wants and they will watch all the March Madness basketball games together. She will have a whole couch to herself and she will sleep on ALL THE BLANKIES and never have to sigh over humans warming their toes under her tummy.
I decided not to do a full-on Best of the Year list because there’s a bunch of 2012 stuff I haven’t read yet (sorry, Sherry Thomas, I have my entire New Year’s Day reserved for you) and I know many of those would be candidates.
So this is a Big Fat Disclaimer that these are books I read and reviewed in my inaugural nine months of blogging, but not necessarily published in 2012.
I couldn’t pick just one short story/novella because there were so many damn good ones. Like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one…. *~*happysigh*~*
I have been a very good girl this year. Please bring me ALL THE BOOKS.
These are just a few highlights. My full list is available on Pinterest for your convenience. And in the interests of efficiency gift cards are welcome as well.
This is what you get when you do a Google search for “medieval maiden.” Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
I dreamed I was a medieval maiden in my maidenform® bra
The past was never quite this perfect! I’m a legendary figure in STAR FLOWER,
Maidenform’s newest work of art! Genius idea: petal-patterned circular-stitched cup,
underlined with twin elastic bands (upper band expands for
custom fitting cups; lower band expands for comfortable give-and-take).
White cotton broadcloth, A, B and C cups. A collector’s item at just 2.50!
Yeesh. Just the words “broadcloth bra” make my boobs itchy. Let us now praise the inventors of Lycra®, even though they were men.
I hate you people. This is ALL YOUR FAULT.
5 Mounties, 4 Vikings, 3 spies, 2 knights,
bodyguard, barbarian, mechanic, chieftain,
engineer, earl, farmer & Templar soldier
Genevieve de Pereille’s music echoed in the hollows of Wolfram’s heart,
pulling him into an unfamiliar world where his knightly vows faded
to a distant murmur. The secret heir to an ancient legacy,
she held him fast with the timeless power of love.
With silver hair and fierce pale eyes, Wolfram stirred something raw
yet beautiful deep inside Genevieve’s very being.
Yet the handsome warrior was responsible for her brother’s death,
and she swore he would never escape her righteous vengeance.