Something a member of My Depression Connection said the other day hit home for me. She talked about wanting to write from a place of authenticity and genuineness. As a health writer I write many articles with factual information presented in an easy to read bullet point format. You have all seen "how to" articles in magazines and web sites and I write them too. But there are times when my soul aches to write something more personal"¦more me. I am a writer but I also write, if that makes sense.
I actually wrote the following piece a while back as a sort of way to reclaim my soul as a writer and to acknowledge that life can’t ever be summed up in an 800 word "how to" list. Life is hard. It isn’t ever easy. We could do everything on every list ever printed and still have a rough time of it. Things will still go wrong. We will still face sadness and despair. And as much as we try to make sense of the world by organizing our lives into neat little boxes and check off lists, we may still fall into chaos. Sometimes our world does not make sense. And all we can do is hold on for dear life and onto to each other.
So I am giving you a raw glimpse of me today"¦sans bullet points.
Five easy ways of living with a mother with schizophrenia and no father while living in the inner city with no money:
“I need you to write me an excuse for school,” I asked my mother.
I held a piece of lined notebook paper and pen in front of her. A lit cigarette dangled from my mother’s lips as she took the paper and pen. She scrawled a message and then signed it.
I took it from her. The note read: Please excuse my daughter from school. She had to take care of me for the day. Signed, George Washington
“I can’t take this to school,” I pleaded.
Mid puff my mother looked at me incredulously. “Well Lincoln didn’t want to sign today.”
Five easy ways to survive college when living with a parent who has a mental illness:
“Did you see my paper?” I asked my mother.
“What paper?” she retorted. “The paper I spent all night typing last night for school.”
I was beginning to become concerned. “I was looking at it.” my mother informed me.
“Looking at it?” I asked with increasing anxiety.
“If you know where it is can you just please give it to me now?”
My mother lifts up a sofa cushion and there is my paper seemingly intact. But then I see it on the top page. She had drawn a picture of what appeared to be an alien with big eyes and outstretched arms. I flipped through the other pages and there on every page was the same creature to greet me.
“Why?” I moaned
“They just want to see what college is like,” she explained.
Five easy ways to live with a drug addict:
“I need you to do something for me today,” he said over the phone with an urgency in his voice.
“What is it?” I asked feeling my anxiety rise.
“I want you to overnight me something. I forgot my weed.”
My boyfriend was working a trade show in another city for five days and was asking me to mail him marijuana.
“No…that is crazy. I won’t do it.”
I knew I would have to hang up soon or he would convince me. He began to plead. “I need you to do this for me.”
“I have to go,” I began hanging up the phone.
I could still hear his voice, demanding and desperate, as I gently placed the receiver into its cradle.
Five easy ways to numb yourself when being told that your son has autism:
I sat in the speech therapist’s office watching my son as he pulled her blinds up and down, up and down.
She sat at a child’s table eagerly asking him to sit down and look at some pictures. My son wanted nothing to do with the pictures or with her blocks. He showed no interest at all in the therapist.
But the blinds What rapture.
The therapist called his name. No response. Not a look. Not a backward glance. Nothing.
After some minutes of this I looked at her and ask a simple question that I already knew the answer to.
“Is what you are seeing here today…can any of this be caused by a hearing loss?”
The therapist could not meet my eyes as she slowly shook her head from side to side.
It was in that moment when I felt my heart break.
Five easy ways to tell yourself that your life isn’t just some bad dream where you will wake up and really be a butterfly:
The phone rings.
It is the call I had been waiting for but wishing I would never get.
“We have the results of your MRI. You have multiple brain lesions which are indicative of Multiple Sclerosis. We need you to come in so we can talk about your treatment.”
“Are you there?” a voice inquires.
Maybe the five easy ways folk have the answers to fill in the spaces, the doubts, and the impossibly vast realm of whys. Perhaps there is a book out there of handy dandy lists neatly spaced and hopefully suggestive of what to do for all occasions.
But until then…I will be sitting in my cloud of memories wondering what in the hell has happened here.