Depression & Suicide: Its not that simple


Robin Williams has been on everyone’s mind for the past couple of days. It’s fresh and raw and the media is running copy about his death and depression. He touched the lives of people all over the world. His performance in Disney’s Aladdin was what inspired me to become an artist, storyteller, and animator, even though the animation part didn’t get off the ground. I performed the first spoken word track off the Good Morning Vietnam soundtrack for talent night when I was a freshman in high school. How I got away with that in a parochial school is beyond me, but the kids, parents, teachers and even the priests were laughing so hard they couldn’t catch their breath. That’s the Jesuits for you.

Along with the outpouring of grief and love and contemplation, I’ve also seen posts and tweets about getting help for suicidal feelings, encouragement to talk it out, and incomprehension about why someone would commit suicide. None of this is surprising, but the incomprehension is wrongheaded at best and harmful at worst, and I’ll explain why. Along with all these social media posts commiserating with victims of depression, sharing their experiences, and collectively mourning, are those that have utterly no concept about depression and suicide and write articles that victim blame the person who died, or say that depression is not a disease, or both. This way of thinking is dangerous.

I like small words. I like short sentences. People have short attention spans these days and brevity is the soul of wit. I’ll take this in phases so that you guys can stay with me.

My experience:

I have direct experience with depression. I’ve dealt with it most of my life and without going into gory details, it’s only been in the last few years that I was able to seek help for it. It’s through this first-hand knowledge that I can speak, at least from my experience, about what it does and what it looks like. Talk therapy has helped me greatly and I’m eternally thankful that I didn’t need medication for it in the long term. There was a stint where I was lightly medicated but that was during my darkest hour. I’ve also had suicidal thoughts and feelings. The closest I came to acting on it was one night sitting by the river. It was all I could do to keep myself on the land side of the fence. I had to call my husband to come and get me or else I wouldn’t be here right now. That was during the time I was getting professional help. Help is not always a guarantee of life preservation.

Others have different experiences, but there are common markers.

Other experiences:

Common factors that I’ve noticed:

  • 1. Depression can’t be cured.

It just hides or goes into remission like cancer or an eating disorder. Like a lot of things, once you break the seal on something it’s never the same. You can find ways to manage it, but a cure is not realistic.

  • 2. Depression is way more than sadness.

Living means you’re going to be sad as well as all the other emotions. Sadness has an expiration date. Depression drags on for weeks, months, or years. Sometimes things that make you sad can make you depressed, that’s where understanding gets tricky. A lot of times people mistake depression for sorrow which makes them frustrated with those people who are depressed. Sometimes depression isn’t sadness, it’s the absence of feelings altogether. When everyone around you is happy, and you should be happy, and you know you should be happy, but you can’t feel it.

  • 3. Depression is stigmatized.

I’ve heard people make insensitive comments to and about depressed people: drama queen, wallowing in it, get over it, don’t take it personally, Debbie downer, whiney, sour puss, wet rag. The list goes on. I remember clearly, it was six months after my father died and I was told to get over it. I was 14. I watched him die for months before the cancer won. Yes, I got depressed. After hearing things like this lobbed my way I was not encouraged to seek help.

  • 4. Depression is ignored by those closest to us and misunderstood by most people.

Some of the people I love and call friend or family added to this depression or caused it to flare up. I look back at my pictures and I clearly see the deadness in my eyes, the well of hopelessness in some of them, even with a smile on my face that really read as a grimace. Yes, I would joke around and laugh or make others laugh, because when I tried to talk through what I was feeling, people usually reacted by trying to fix me as fast as possible, because I scared them. Trust me, no one was more scared then I was. Most people with depression are scared. Maybe not about dying, but they’re scared of something.

  • 5. You’re not going to cure it or control it from following bullet points on WebMD.

Depressed people don’t want to make a fuss because of the way they get dismissed by those who can’t be bothered. They are also ill-equipped to deal with the panic and anxiety from loved ones who can’t be calm. These two groups have one thing in common: they are thinking of themselves and not the depressed person. So what happens? We turn to web sites with a check list on how we can beat depression. Here are the self-help greatest hits from a quick Google search. Guys, if this actually worked do you really think depression would still be an issue? The answer is clearly ‘no’. If any of this lifts your depression in the long term, that means you were not depressed, just really sad – and that’s ok! It’s just not the same.

I’m glad you stuck with me this long. It shows me that you really want to understand, even if you’re a little scared of the topic. You’re supposed to be. Living things, for the most part, crave to keep living – bio 101.

So what would make someone want to commit suicide? Lots of things can give the person a reason to act, but the real reason – the raw, gut clenching fact – is that the person feels like there are no other options. They believe they are facing indefinite, crushing, debilitating pain in a nightmare they can’t escape and no temporary relief will take that away.

Why suicide?

  • 1. Depression lies to the person feeling it.

It says we’re weak, worthless, and meaningless. It says we’re stupid and people hate us. It’s the bully that no one in the physical world can stop because it’s trapped in our minds whether by mental disease such as bi-polar or mean spirited people feeding us lies and our brains repeating it so they don’t have to. Depression tells us that no one will miss us. It says there will be no end to the pain. It lies. It doesn’t sleep. It tells us the only way out is to die and then there will be peace where no one can get us, not the pain, not the bully, not the disease or horrifying memories that chase us.

People who are sad don’t feel this. They feel terrible, but they don’t feel hunted or abandoned. They know they can reach out and someone will be there, so they seek help.

  • 2. Depressed people hide because they think their fears will be founded in rejection, apathy, revulsion, abandonment, ridicule, and shunning.

And they’re not wrong. Two seconds of internet searching, being told “get over it” on various occasions after my father died, and being ignored by friends, family and administration when I was bullied to the point of a mental break by one of my employers gives strong evidence that there is a real apathy and victim blaming patterns of behavior that people show when the depressed try to reach out for help.

  • 3. Traditional support structures often don’t pay attention.

These are the same kinds of people who are shocked when they hear someone kills themselves. They’re the people who blame the victim, or claim they never knew something was wrong. I wonder how much they tried asking. I wonder how much they listened to understand what was going on with the person rather than listening to toss out some piece of advice that made them feel smart. They are self-centered, which brings me to my next point about suicide and what it is.

  • 4. Suicide has nothing to do with anyone except the person who dies.

There’s a difference between mourning the loss of someone you love and blaming them for hurting you by dying. Point #1: Everyone dies – it’s the timing and method that is variable. Point #2: It’s not about you. Killing oneself is only about that person and their pain. The pain blinds them to love of everyone – child, spouse, sibling, parent, friend, pet – none of it matters because they are in an abyss from which they can’t pull up. I don’t expect children to understand because they’re children. It’s our job as adults – the ones that brought them to this planet without asking first – to try to help them through this and explain it. Let them make up their own minds. Besides, getting angry at someone who committed suicide only makes you miserable (they’re dead, they can’t hear you) and it convinces other depressed people not to seek help.

  • 5. Telling suicidal or depressed people to “get help” is NOT helpful.

Maybe they want to talk to you and be reassured that you love them, or care for them, or feel SOMETHING for them. If you meet them with apathy, or anxiety, or a bunch of clichéd quick fixes, why should they believe that a total stranger who charges them $500 an hour gives a wet slap about them? You’re supposed to be part of their support system.

Maybe they have a chemical, physical, or mental disease and depression is a symptom. Many schizophrenic and bi-polar people don’t think they need help. Mental afflictions lie to people, telling them it’s fine, everything is fine, you’re fiiiiiine, you don’t need help! So they won’t look for it.

Maybe they don’t want it. They could have been running for a damn long time and they’re just tired of fighting. Even with all of Mr. Williams’s support and popularity and money (that I’m assuming he had) he got tired of running. If what people say is true and kids, family, friends are all amazing reasons to keep on living, can you imagine how much darkness and pain he would have to be in to give that up?

  • 6. Not everyone who commits suicide, or wants to, is “crazy”.

I’ve heard this line a lot. Suicidal people are not in their right mind. I don’t think that’s always the case and in my experience it wasn’t. I was clear minded when I thought about it. I knew it would stop the pain. I also knew it was permanent and I have commitment issues. I also had someone very close to me pull me back and show me that there are things worth fighting for and I wasn’t alone and they would help me. They wouldn’t let me miss all the time that I could have. They did it for me, not because they would miss me or mourn me. They did it because they wanted me to be happy. You know who you are, and I will always be grateful.

  • 7. Health care in America doesn’t take mental health seriously enough.

I believe this is self-explanatory. Health care is stupidly expensive. Mental health care is even more so, but because you’re not bleeding from the eyeballs or having a chest popper from Alien making a nightly appearance, mental wellness is often passed over. And since people can’t see the injury they don’t think there’s a problem. BTW cancer can have that same hiding manner – until it’s too late.

So what do you do? You don’t have depression, but maybe you’re not so sure about your loved one. You came this far because there is something off in their behavior and you want to check in with them. Maybe you do have depression and you’ve read all this way with me to find something, some truth, because you’re not ready to go yet. All I can offer is what I know and lived through.

Now what?

  • 1. In the right hands, you can beat the episode, but probably not alone.

As I said, talk therapy and changing my environment saved my life – literally. Sometimes you have to put a little trust in a stranger and open your wallet. It sucks. It does. It can also be a tremendous help. Yes, there will be ignorant and insensitive assholes that will comment and jeer, but that is their problem and says way more about them than it does about you. There will also be people who learn how brave you are and how strong you are for reaching out especially at a point where everything is painful and you can’t see the forest for the trees.

  • 2. If you know, or think you know someone with depression YOU have to help them.

They might not be able to get help on their own. If you love them and you want them to stay on the earth, it’s your responsibility to help them. Remember, they may have already made a permanent choice based on bad intel – lying brain, feeling abandoned, hopelessness. They’re good with their game plan to die. You have to help them get the professional help they need in order to see that there is potential for more good life instead of the long road of pain they think it inevitably is.

  • 3. Don’t head shrink – leave it to the professionals.

You can do a lot of damage trying to psychoanalyze someone, even if it’s well intentioned. There’s a span of belief that each person has. Telling a depressed person that they’re good enough, strong enough, and gosh darn people like them, falls way outside their span of belief. Try convincing an atheist that there is a god and Jesus loves him. That makes for a fun show down at the microbrewery, even the gluten free ones. Professional psychiatrists, psychologists, and other people in the mental health field are really the only ones that should be doing this anyway. They have the skills and years of training to handle it. Reading Depression for Dummies, or having seen that one episode of Dr. Phil are not where you should start.

  • 4. Never, ever, ever threaten them with the hospital or psych ward.

This is a death warrant for some people. “I’ll lock you up.” “I’ll have them shove medicine in you.” “The ambulance is on the way.” These are the possible outcomes:

  • They stop talking
  • They commit to the death plan
  • They cut you out of their lives
  • They sink deeper into depression
  • Their depression is compounded with terror at the threat of being locked up

You don’t ever do this. Ever.

  • 5. Be there, but be calm!

If you ever saw a stray cat you’ll know that they bolt at the first sight of a human, dog, or loud sound. The same concept applies here. If you’re going to talk with/support your loved one you have to chill out. I get it. This is scary shit! It’s literally a matter of life and death which makes being calm way more important. If they see you get upset, freaked, nervous, agitated, whatever, they are going to stop talking. THIS IS BAD!! You never want a depressed or suicidal person (passive or active) to stop talking.

  • 6. Shut the hell up and LISTEN with your BRAIN (and your ears).

Most people listen to respond. Don’t do that. Listen to understand. Even if what they say is a gibbering mess that ends in tears, *shut up and listen to them*. You don’t have to fix it. You don’t even have to speak! A lot of the time they just need to get it out, like vomit or poison. They need to expel the demon chasing them so they can start to heal. A short while ago, when I was seriously on the edge, being heard derailed a potential mess. Just knowing that I was heard and loved and safe stopped it in its tracks. I can’t stress enough how important it is for the person to feel like they were heard. When this happens it shows them that they matter. Writers say “show, don’t tell.” This is what that looks like in real time.

  • 7. Let them go.

That does not mean help them along. That’s a whole other topic, one that I am nowhere near qualified to comment on. When I say let them go I mean you have to trust them to make the decisions they want to make for themselves. Yes, it will devastate you to lose someone you love, but maybe it’s devastating for them to be in constant torment. There has to be quality of life, not just quantity. You also have to respect that they are an adult and can make their own decisions – taking into account reason, severity and type of mental disorder. If you’ve done all you can for them, let go. This is out of your span of control. What you’re really trying to control is the disease and threat to life that it causes, and no one can do that. If someone really wants to go, they will. They just won’t talk about it which is why making sure they keep talking is so vital.

Everything has an expiration date: milk, vacations, our lives, even reality TV shows. What we should be doing with the time we’re given is help each other, offer unbiased support, love and a safe harbor. Life is hard! We all know it but many of us bring more children into the world because we know that it can be amazing too. We fall down on taking care of each other and in a world so fraught with harm and sadness we should be kind to people or at least civil. It’s easy enough to get a check list of what can cause depression, but to fully understand it will take more than bullet points. All that text above is just the tip of the iceberg for trying to understand it and it’s from one person’s experience. The best way you can help is to listen with an open mind, love with an open heart, and give support with no strings because you want the best for your loved one and not what is only right for you.

Good luck.

Charlotte’s Cross mini scene


A scene I sketched out with all of the protagonists. Not sure if it will make final cut but it was a piece that was wandering my mind for a few days.

 

Renzi picked up Markus’ water skein and coaxed out the liquid within. It hovered just above his hands, soft and pliable, with a glow of warmth to it. He passed it to Charlotte seated on right. She scooped a small mound of dirt from the earth and melded it with Renzi’s water. Delicately she fashioned feathers, a beak and beady eyes from the clay. A sparrow. It rested in her hands, a close likeness to the real thing. Charlotte, pleased with her work, passed the clay bird to Valenara.

Markus watched in wonder as the marked ones worked. They said nothing and yet seemed to know what each person’s role was to be. Not even a look of spite passed from Valenara to Charlotte, as was typical of the two when they interacted.

Valenara stroked the clay bird’s chest and throat. A faint sound of bird song broke the midnight silence around the campfire even though the bird made no movement. She passed it to Dran who cradled it lovingly in the palms of her small hands. Golden light issues from where the bird rested in the little girl’s hands and it shook its head and chirped loud and strong.

Markus gasped and leaned forward as the feathery new bird was passed to Sky. He swallowed hard and hoped that the reckless lad would know how to be gentle with such a fragile being. To Markus’ surprise, Sky was very careful when he was offered the sparrow. He allowed it to perch in his index finger with its tiny sharp clawed feet. As it peep peeped at him, Sky blew softly at the bird ruffling its feathers and causing it to unfurl its little wings. With a shimmy and a fluff the bird took flight, hovering near Sky for a moment before flying off into the trees, lost to the twilight.

Charlotte said, “the circle is incomplete.”

Renzini sighed, “Yes. Without Trucido, this circle, and others, will never close.”

“Old stories will never end.” Valenara said

“And new ones can’t begin without the past to guide them,” said Dran

Sky stared at the ground, clenching his teeth. “I hate him. But I hate that we need him more.”

Nicodemus closed his eyes slowly. “He makes the straight line into a circle. By ending life he sustains the infinite dance of life”

None of them knew quiet how to respond. They say in solemn silence until the stars winked into view one by one and Luna made her climb into the sky, forcing a smile from Renzi’s lips.

Dream Catcher WIP


Prologue

Tamrind found himself standing in the middle of his bedroom in bare feet. Instead of the wooden floor he expected to feel, there was nothing, and yet that seemed as it should. He couldn’t remember how he got there or what he was listening for, but he knew there was something moving outside. He could sense it. Through the glass of the window he could see tiny green motes of light dancing to and fro. Fireflies drifted among the low branches of the rose bushes that grew under the sill. A shadow darted out from the thorns, disturbing the fireflies and scattering them about. It wasn’t one he had seen before. It shimmered.

When he turned away from the window his surroundings shifted from room to grassy field under a dusky sky. In the distance was a huge tree breaking up the horizon, reaching its branches skyward, and among the blades of grass were small darkened circles filled with firefly light, a greenish glow, leading him toward the lonely tree. His steps took him triple the distance than any normal footfall as he followed the luminous path. In moments he was looking up into the crown of branches at the champagne glass shaped leaves. Under his hands the bark felt soft to the touch, but there was no give under his fingers that one would expect. The fireflies wound around the tree spiraling upward from the ground into the overhead boughs, some of them dipping in an out of the leaves and shaking off bright blue drops of liquid.

Early summer was on the breeze lifting off the wildflowers and moss nestled in the cracks of the trunk, but Tamrind didn’t smell it. He just knew it was there.  The scape was soundless, not even the rustle of leaves in the night wind, gentle as it was. No one was to be found, but the vastness of the plains stretching in every direction with the champagne leaf tree the only thing to break up the monotony. Even the lighted path he followed from his room had vanished.

As he walked around the tree, tracing his hand along the bark and trying to avoid disturbing the little bugs, Tamrind came to a woven basket nestled among the roots. It was already half filled with acorns with a few scattered on the ground around it. He knelt down and reached for one of them. “Hey!” A voice from above backed at him. “Don’t touch those!”

Tamrind looked up into the boughs but count see anything but leaves and the inky sky peeking between them. “Uh, sorry?”

“You should be,” it sounded like a girl’s voice. “Those are mine. Go find your own.” He couldn’t see the girl, but he could see the branches shifting under her weight as she moved through the tree.

“Calm down. I wasn’t going to take them,” he said.

“Get out of my tree! What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I’m not—” He looked down at his feet and the ground far below, yelping as he scrambled to grab onto any branch within reach. “How did I get up here? What’s going on?” Tamrind’s face snapped around to hers. She was half his size, dark green curly hair cropped to her chin and sparkling in the low light, and she was dressed in what looked like cast off flower petals. “Who are—”

“I didn’t make this dream for you, human. Piss off!” she yelled. With both hands, the girl shoved him off the branch not giving Tamrind time to cry out. The pit of his stomach dropped hard before his world went black.

He opened his eyes with a start. Sunlight was streaming through his bedroom window warming up the pitcher of water on the nightstand next to his bed. Sheets were a tangled mess around his legs. It was just after dawn and the cloister clock would start to chime, calling everyone to the mess hall for breakfast. He rubbed his face with his hands and sighed. His head ached and his stomach felt tight for some reason. Another restless night and the morning didn’t promise to be any better. How many more nights would he have to endure sleepless, hopeless, dreamless.

The last thing he remembered was leaving a note on his rocking chair. He never expected an answer, because as far as he was concerned prayers were worthless. The gods had stopped listening years ago or maybe they never were in the first place. And yet, there was that little scrap of paper resting every night with one final plea, ‘Wake me if you’re out there…’

Repairing My Compass


I don’t know what’s been going on with me but for the past six months or so, trying to find motivation in anything has been really hard and I noticed that with each passing day it’s getting harder. At first it was a slowdown in my writing because work got so cumbersome, but then it started to escalate. I don’t work on my cosplay costumes as much. I haven’t been reading anything, or watching movies and TV with the same interest level. In fact, if I miss a few episodes, even of a show I love, I don’t really care. Remembering things that happened in the past episodes or in the movies I watch have been getting harder too, unless I’ve seen them over and over again. I’m talking about things I adore, like Fullmetal Alchemist. Someone will make a reference and it will go right over my head.

Most of what I’ve been doing is just zoning out on crappy facebook games or flipping through the internet looking at photos of things I want to make, populating my pintrest with pins I’ll never look at even thought I collect them with the best intentions. Even getting out of bed in the morning is a struggle. It’s taking everything I have to write this and I doubt very much that I‘ll bother to proof read it. My brain is sluggish and my body constantly feels weak, no matter how well I eat or what kinds of exercise I do. My fit bit says I’m doing great – averaging 12k – 15k steps a day. That’s almost as much as 6 miles. I’m not running these miles. I’m walking them at a standard pace.

The chores are piling up. My weight is piling up. The goals I wanted to accomplish are piling up and I have no energy or motivation to do any of it. Getting advice on how to just ‘get ‘er done’ and ‘make time’ don’t help. I just feel lazier and a bit more depressed. I’m really hoping my doc can give me some answers because right now all I have is that I’m being lazy or not working hard enough. I’m tired all the time, mentally, physically, and sometimes emotionally. Seeing friends was one of the joys in my life, but if I’m not dreading spending time and energy to be with them then something in me is scared that they’ll see how unplugged and disconnected I am.

I better put on some coffee so I can get my laundry done.

Fat vs. Logic


You hear it all the time. It’s on the news, ads, billboards, magazines, tv, experts and so on – fat is bad! Being fat can kill you. You need to lose weight. Fair enough, but when reading some of these articles and just by virtue of being alive the pressure to ‘be healthy’ or ‘not be fat’ is overwhelming. 

First off, the definition of fat or overweight is constantly being redefined. Health experts resort to the good old BMI scale as often as they say it shouldn’t be the only benchmark. Ad companies now hammer it home that it’s not enough to be a size 10 or 8; you’re only healthy if you fit into a 4 or 2, no matter what your height or your skeletal build says. Peers will slander anyone with the term ‘fat’ regardless of their dress size, body shape, or level of fitness. In fact, nothing brings out the bullies, trolls, medical know-it-alls, and nasty people like writing a piece that promotes self love and beauty at all sizes. Even doctors can be downright horrible people, only seeing the fat and not the person under it or the disease they’re supposed to be treating. My aunt almost died because of this. Her red blood count had dropped to about a quarter of what it should have been. Since she has type 2 diabetes, the doctor already had a baseline of what her blood count should be. Her complaints of fatigue and back pain were dismissed as her being too fat. If it weren’t for my cousin’s intervention we would have lost her way too soon. The doctor saw the fat, not the person, and that is the whole problem. These are people we’re talking about. People who have names and faces, and are loved by others.

Then you have the not-so-helpful studies that say you can be fit and fat at the same time. The journalists covering these studies will trip over themselves to drive the point home that fat is unhealthy, even when the studies show that it’s possible to be healthy and fat at the same time! Remember – ITS UNHEALTHY THAT YOU’RE FAT!!! DON’T FORGET THAT YOU’RE FAT WHICH IS BAD FOR HEALTH! But yeah, you can be fit – BUT MAYBE NOT! Which point are you trying to make? Are you discussing the findings that were in the study or are you terrified that Johnny is going to miss the point and take out an S&S cheese cake single handed? Finish your extra lean turkey burger, sans bun, before you go on your ‘don’t eat dessert’ tear.

When dealing with science, reporting on the latest studies usually takes results out of context, or gets them wrong in whole or in part. Journalists are people too, with all the prejudices that everyone else has. If a study doesn’t confirm their biases, they’re likely to ignore it, or ‘massage’ the results for the public. For example – there was a ‘study’ done by one doctor that resulted in “women don’t have orgasms” and because a doctor said it, and it confirmed what the journalists of the day believed, well it must be true! There were plenty of these studies done until someone did another study that disproved that. So because some chuckle head had no idea on how to get a woman to climax, it was suddenly her problem. But I digress… Yet, it’s kind of the same old song played over and over again. Science studies something and the media runs away with it. The latest on fat and fit was that you can’t haz cheezeburger because it’ll still kill you no matter how long you run on the treadmill. If you read it all the way to the end there’s still that, “You can’t be fat and fit!! I told you so!!….MAYBE!” waffling as the author wraps up using soft language so she doesn’t have to pick a side.

I’m pretty sure after years and years of being told fat is ultimately unhealthy we all got the message and no one with common sense is going to be able to justify a bucket of KFC as health food. You even hear it in our language when someone is eating chocolate. “Oh, this is so bad for me.” “I can’t eat that, it’ll go straight to my thighs.” Has anyone ever stopped to think about Angel’s food cake vs. Devil’s food cake? One is light and fluffy and a more ‘virtuous’ choice if you have to have something sweet. The other is decadent and sinful and oh you bad, bad girl, give me a slice. We even call our food good and bad, which then gets into the body images of good and bad, which brings me to my next point.

What exactly is so dangerous about a fat person loving the person they are? I’m being serious here. We talk a good game about how important good self esteem is to children, but there seems to be a line drawn when he or she is over an arbitrary number. Even if we say to the kid that they’re beautiful and worthy just as they are, there’s always the “but you know that you’re not healthy” caveat at the end. Like this article from CNN Health that questions whether or not it’s a good idea to promote fat acceptance. I have one question for that. Can you think of anyone that came out of the other side of constant rejection, bullying, abuse and/or shaming that was a sound, functioning, happy human? I assure you, we don’t forget that we’re overweight; a mirror clears that up in seconds. To have our faces ground into it every second, every time we shop for clothes, with every forkful, be it salad or fried chicken, wears down the psyche and destroys a piece of the person each time a cruel or ‘well-intentioned’ barb is thrown. People need support. You do no one any favors by constantly tearing them down or reminding them of how long a road they have to travel. THEY KNOW! They wake up with that body every day. They can’t just put it down and be something else any more than they can put down their race, gender or permanently attached body parts. I’d love to take off chunks of my weight and say, “I think I’ll be a size 4 today.” Doesn’t work like that. I have to haul around a size 16 ass until the miles on the stationary bike catch up to my body turn it into a size 10.

I don’t hate skinny people. I’m not on a fat crusade. I don’t think we should all burn broccoli in effigy and dance through fields of pizza and beer. All I’m looking for is that a little logic and civility be brought to the table. When fat people are discussed in popular media outlets, it’s skinny people doing the talking. Fat people are talked about in the abstract, as if they’re a topic or demographic and not actual human beings. Then you have shows that exploit them like The Biggest Loser and shows of that ilk. That’s harmful too, because now you’re taking someone’s life path and making it a sideshow for others to cheer or jeer and for every one winner who gets to their goal there are countless others kicked or voted off that are left to flounder without help.

These are people. That point gets lost so often. If you read the comments at the end of this really wonderful and necessary article, you can see how society will not let anyone forget their station. What those comments are really saying in response to that post is that you can’t tell a little girl that she’s worthy unless she fits into a certain size range. They say, “how dare you think that sweater looks good on you, you can’t be cute because of your cankles.” They say, “I want you to be ashamed.” Why? Why is there this visceral need to tear down people? We already covered that fat people won’t forget their fat because you said they are worthy of common decency and respect. What if we turned it around? We shouldn’t tell skinny people they’re beautiful! They might think its ok to be skinny and get anorexic and then die! See how stupid that sounds?

We’re not talking about some made up fat person laughing maniacally while rubbing their naked cascading rolls with Crisco™ shortening and fried Oreos™. There’s no fat mascot for us to shame or cast out. This phantom unhealthy fat slob is not going to break into your homes and eat all of your ice cream. These are people who live their lives like everyone else and who don’t need to be torn down. They need logic, understanding, and support just like anyone else who is trying to reach a goal. A goal which they can set their damn self.

Lastly, if fat people really push your buttons, walk away or turn off the internet for a while. No one is forcing anyone to spew hateful shit towards people you don’t know. That’s just being horrible. They can lose weight, but horrible people will always be ugly on the inside and that’s a hell of a lot harder to get rid of. There is always the option to say nothing. Fascinating how underused that option is.

The “Head/Desk” Moments of My Week


There have been enough stupid things people have said, usually in prose form, that I have seen, read, or head about this week that were either so profoundly stupid or incredibly mean spirited that I’m afraid I’m going to forget them all if I don’t make a note of it. Let’s count, shall we?

  1. Fat shaming comments after an article that was written to give overweight girls encouragement and support.
    (I know, never read the comments.)
  2. Victoria’s Secret kicking a breastfeeding mother from their store in Texas
    (I think they forgot that they sell sex. Maybe they need a refresher course on where babies come from.)
  3. Articles from health web sites, like Everyday Health and CNN Health that say You can be fit and fat at the same time, but then beat into the ground that you shouldn’t be fat because its not healthy.
  4. The second one reminds me of the time I was chase out of a VS store for being too fat. I was there to treat myself for losing 20 lbs.

That’s all I can think of because it’s late and the polar vortex is screwing with my sinus. Be prepared for the above topics to show up on my site as I try to tackle the other projects I have going on.

In other news, I have all the pieces for my Fullmetal Bellydancer cosplay and it is AWESOME! That is all…

Why It’s Exhausting to Read


I keep hearing that someone can’t be a good writer if they’re not a prolific reader and I’m going to tell you in one word why that blanket statement, like many blanket statements, is complete bullshit.

Dyslexia
dys·lex·i·a
noun

  1. a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.

It makes me physically exhausted to try to decode the text in front of me. I’m not even trying to read in a different language. When I see letters, a lot of them look the same or switch places, and sometimes they do both! I have it with numbers as well. Any book that has pictures in it – thank you graphic novels – make it so much easier to follow the plot and gives my eyes and brain a rest. It has nothing to do with my intelligence, which got called into question more often than needed in grade school, and everything to do with the fact that the shapes letters take is hard for my brain to translate into anything usable.

Summer reading lists were the bane of my existence. Let’s not even get into the fact that forcing a kid to read, over their vacation, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Spelling tests we’re torture. Thank god for spell check is all I’m gonna say. Mom would help me study for them for – no joke – 2 full torturous hours. 20 words, 2 hours of hell, every week. When we had the spelling final I was looking at about 8 hours of memorizing what the word looked like as a picture in my mind rather than trying to sound it out, because the word “job” sounds like it should be spelled as “gob”, so $%^& that noise. Silent letters and the “ei/ie” conundrum can go fuck themselves.

I learned how to tell stories faster than how to write them because that’s all we did in our house was tell stories, about our experiences, about our memories, about other people we knew or met or wanted to avoid. Sometimes my parents made up stories for me or read to me so that my mind was free to imagine what was going on instead of struggling to make sense of the text vomit that was “The Hobbit” or “The Neverending Story.” When I hear people say, nose in air, “Read a book without pictures!” I want to beat them to death with War & Peace, the unabridged hard cover edition. They’ll be picking Dewey decimals out of their teeth for weeks.

I learned how to tell stories by watching movies, listening to music, playing with my toys, inventing little scenarios and just letting my imagination run away with itself. The cartoons that I was so in love with fueled that creative spark and because they spoke to me instead of forced me to read something, I was able to relate and understand.

I told stories through different mediums as well. Graphic novel panels, comic strips, paintings, singing, acting, dancing, short film writing, word of mouth, stand up comedy, mimicry, voice acting, all of these avenues I used at one point or another to tell a story. It’s not just the written word that can do this.

When I discovered the Dyslexie font and installed it on my Instapaper app I almost cried. I was able to read like everyone else! Fast, comprehending, effortless. It was amazing. I’m still learning how to get that on every digital device I own. I upgraded to the iPhone 5s and lost my font for instapaper, for now. This article by the Huffington post will give you an idea of what I see when my brain tries to read. Granted, road signs and crap like that are pretty clear for me, but I got lucky. The severity runs the gamut.

I managed to get an imagination that is extremely powerful, and that can be a double-edged sword. This has carried me through a lot of my writing so what I lacked in technical skill I made up for in creativity. Luckily, the technical aspects can be taught. It might have been truer in the past that reading was the best way to become a good writer, and yes there is a kernel of truth in there as well, but it seemed to me that stating the sole source of good writing comes from good reading habits was a bit shortsighted and exclusionary as well. Just because you can write well doesn’t mean what you write is interesting.

That’s why I call myself a storyteller rather than a writer.

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