Daily Archives: March 26, 2017

Product Review – PillDrill

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by … Continue reading

In The”Needs To Work Out More” File

Alleged burglar attempts to flee Tucson school, pants caught on spiked fence

http://www.abc15.com/news/region-central-southern-az/tucson/alleged-burglar-attempts-to-flee-tucson-school-pants-caught-on-spiked-fence


Why Do I Write About Mental Illness?

I have bipolar disorder. But that by itself isn’t the answer. Here’s why I write about mental illness and mental health.

It’s what I do. I’m a writer. It’s what I would be, bipolar disorder or not. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and writing and editing professionally for decades. But that isn’t the whole answer either.

It’s what I have to do. I have plenty of topics to write about besides mental illness. Over the years I have written poetry; a few children’s stories; and articles about martial arts, religion, cats, education and teachers, technology, architecture, and other subjects. In addition to this blog, I have another – janetcobur.wordpress.com – in which I write about whatever crosses my mind or my path – books, news, humor, and the things that made me name my blog Et Cetera, etc.

But this blog is the one that I have to write. It started as journaling but quickly – in a matter of weeks – became more.

It’s what I am. Mentally ill, that is. A life-long acquaintance with – or rather, experience of – a mental illness makes the subject one that goes to the bone. I can’t call up a memory from my childhood that doesn’t involve desperation, sobbing, and disaffection, or fragile, giggling glee at things no one else noticed or cared about. My college years were marred by distress, anxiety, and apathy. My adulthood has been marked by breakdowns, immobility, and psychotropics. I can’t get away from the subject, even if I try.

I have the skills for it. I have read a lot about mental illness and bipolar disorder, in self-help books, more scholarly works, memoirs, and even fiction (http://wp.me/p4e9Hv-nE). I have an academic background and an intelligent layperson’s knowledge of science and psychology. I can share that perspective with others.

It helps me and others understand. Examining aspects of bipolar disorder necessitates that I learn more about it – and therefore about myself. Planning, writing, and editing posts help me clarify my thinking about this illness I live with every day. Sometimes I am just too close to it until I step back and look at it from a different or even new perspective. That’s one of the benefits for me.

The feedback I get – comments from readers and other bloggers – leads me to believe that what I write has value for them too.

It needs to be talked about. The general public – society at large – doesn’t understand mental illness. There are widespread jokes, misunderstandings, and inaccurate media portrayals. Above all, there is discrimination – in jobs, housing, medical treatment, the legal system, and more. There is more trash talked about mental illness and psychotropics every time there is a mass shooting incident or a domestic terrorist bombing.

One of the solutions to these problems is education. Most of the writing I’ve done in my life has been on (or near) the subject of education. I consider myself an advocate for education. And now I am an advocate for education about mental illness. That education should start in public and private school health or social sciences classes. It should continue in adulthood for those who never learned it in school.

Celebrities like Glenn Close and Richard Dreyfuss have big names and big audiences and a vital message to spread about mental illness. I don’t have the big name or the big audience, but I do what I can.

Because the people, including me, who live with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses every day, need messages of hope and sympathy and experience and activism and explanation and thought and outrage and kindness.

And that’s why I write about mental illness.

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: bipolar disorder, mental health, mental illness, mutual support, my experiences, public perception, writing

A Vigorous & Colourful Personality : a Blog for Mothering Sunday

Vigorous & Colourful, late 1980s

Hi Mom,

It’s that time, again, Mothering Sunday. Mother’s Day, in American, though the latter is in May, not March. I remember how I used to buy a card for you, in March, then post it in time for Mother’s Day. It was a good plan, those years when I actually remembered where I’d put the flippin’ card. Those forgetful years, you received a card with no verse: often, with a cat on the cover.

Here’s a photo of our latest, by the way. I know you’d love him, if you met him. If you still rang every week, the first thing you’d say, after hello, would be, “How is the cat?”

The latest grand-cat, Al “the Pal”

I was listening to Sinatra a few minutes ago. I remember you telling me, several times over the years, about the time you & your friend Christie went to see him, in New York, when you were in your early 20s. Apparently, you stayed in your seats after the first concert, so you could see him again. It’s the only time I know of that you (sort of) broke the law.

This is the Sinatra song I’m told Dad played at your funeral. I remember the album, which one of us would have had to play for you, on account of you never figuring out how to work the stereo. How did you manage to play all those lovely old singles you bought, in your teens, and pre-marriage 20s? The ones you lugged along through at least two house moves: not just Sinatra, but also Gershwin, including “Rhapsody in Blue?”

I don’t remember you ever saying which one was your favourite song. I know Dad liked “Set ’em Up Joe”. I liked this one. It appealed to my angst-ridden, teenaged soul.

This is the fourth time I’ve written to you, via my blog, and God(s), on Mothering Sunday. One year, adrift on a sea of nostalgia,I wrote it on Mother’s Day, instead.

That first blog-letter to you was also the very first blog I wrote, back in 2014. It’s kind of a tradition, now, for to write to you once a year, and note the passing of another blog year, as well.

Your birthday is coming up soon: you would have been 90. I try to imagine you at that age. Sadly, the mental pictures I get reflect what you were like those last two years, when Alzheimer’s combined with Myasthenia Gravis to blot out your “vigorous and colourful personality”.

The phrase is a quote from a book blurb describing Baroness Ocrzy, author of the “Scarlet Pimpernel” books. “Pimpernel” was one of the paperbacks in my sister’s desk drawers. I think it was assigned for a high school class. Later, while at Wayne, I read some of the sequels in the main Detroit library, when I should have been studying, instead.

You loved that library, and the time you spent working there. Hell, you loved all libraries.

The magnificence that is Detroit Public Library

Writing this has helped calm me down. I’ve been a bit hypomanic of late: chatty, struggling at times to keep my conversations from turning into downloads, and a bit loud with it, too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not too extreme, and the energy is great. Still, I have to watch it. I remember how, that first time I was in hospital, you drove to Fairlane, just to get me a lovely cat jumper, and some cat socks.

Summed it up, really

It’s a shame my version of your “vigorous & colourful personality” is bipolar-flavoured, but we can’t have it all, eh? If we could, you would never have developed Alzheimer’s. It’s a cruel disease, especially so for someone who lived to read, and think, and express her often Thatcher-esque opinions.

I like to think you understand why I destroyed those last few photos of you: the ones where your light was gone, and only a frail framework remained. I cannot imagine, had you still been able to express an opinion, you would have ever wanted to be photographed on such outstandingly bad hair days. You, the woman who always put on lipstick before she went out, even to the supermarket. Still, it gave Dad comfort to still be able to take your picture, I guess.

This is how I prefer to think of you: pretty in pink, bursting with pride at your son’s wedding. My vigorous, bookish, colourful mother.

Love,

Sheila

Mom, aka Mum, late 1980s

Tagged: alzheimer’s, Baroness Orczy, bereavement, bipolar, cats, dementia, Detroit, Detroit Public Library, Frank Sinatra, grief, hypomania, libraries, Michigan, Mother’s Day, Mothering Sunday, myasthenia gravis, September of My Years, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Wayne State University