Hi. It's Wednesday. I have spent the better part of the last 36 hours reflecting on the death of Robin Williams, and devoted my writing to him yesterday, pushing this off until now.
I figured you guys would understand.
I'm up early, way early, but not by choice. At some point around 3 a.m., I developed an earache so horrible that I can't stand to lay down at all. Sitting up isn't helping much, tea isn't making anything better. I broke down and took something for the pain, which I hate doing, but it is what it is. I'm sure I will be at urgent care later this morning when they open.
The last time that I was pregnant I had an ear infection start just like this one. Sudden, painful, out of nowhere. No cold or flu before hand, no warning that it was coming. That time, within about 12 hours, my eardrum had ruptured. I could count on one hand the number of ear infections I have had in my life, but when I do get them, I do a hell of a good job. Sigh.
So forgive me in advance if I'm unusually whiny or snarky today. I'm tired and I hurt.
I have this theory about myself, and it goes a little bit like this...emotional upset causes me physical pain. It has happened so many times that I don't even really think it is a theory anymore, but more of a crappy fact about my immune system. The news this week has unsettled me. I've been writing about it, but that's not always enough. Doesn't appear to be this time.
Anyhow, off we go. Quietly.
The Police Shooting and Riots You Haven't Heard Of
Over the weekend, a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. At least some of the shots hit him in the head. The stories coming from the community, of people who say they were with him at the time are vastly different than what the police are claiming happened.
The area has a long and sordid past with race relations as it is, the city being predominantly black, the government officials being predominantly white. The police aren't releasing the name of the officer involved in the shooting, claiming that such restraint is necessary for the safety of the officer. The police have requested, and received, an order of a no-fly zone from the FAA, effectively blocking all air traffic in the area outside of law enforcement.
They claim this is being done, again, for the safety of the police...but it also has the effect of banning news helicopters from the area, limiting the ability of the press to report on what is happening in the town. When asked why the order was put into effect or what the timeframe is for an autopsy to be performed on Brown, the police defiantly told reporters to file a FOIA (freedom of information act) request.
The FBI and federal civil rights agencies are investigating the case, peaceful protests have turned violent, and people are collectively just fed up with what they say is the latest instance of a horrible injustice.
Perhaps even more troublesome is the fact that this story, in large part, hasn't been picked up nationwide by the media. It certainly isn't receiving the level of coverage it deserves. Part of that could almost certainly be attributed to the demeanor of law enforcement in the area, but a large part of the blame rests at the feet of the news industry, for focusing on other stories above this one.
Mental Illness, Suicide and the Oblivious
As is generally the case in the wake of any high profile death, people are talking, pointing fingers, musing about why and how, making judgments about the person gone. Robin Williams took his own life Sunday night, and there are people out there in this world certain they know why. Some decided he was just selfish, some that he was a coward, some that he made a conscious choice.
Others have mused about the legitimacy of depression, whether it is a true medical condition, or whether that person just needed to work harder to focus on the joy.
The thing that none of these people seem to understand about depression is that depression doesn't care how many things you have to be happy about in your life...it won't let you. It lies to you. It whispers in your ear. It tells you to ignore the good, or that you don't deserve it, or that you've done nothing to earn it, or that people would be better off without you.
It isn't cured by a walk or a happy thought or a bank balance. It can be treated, yes, but even the most thorough treatment in the world sometimes fails to help the person suffering.
It doesn't appear rational to those on the outside who don't understand because it isn't rational to those on the outside who don't understand.
It is a disease of the mind that can affect every single other thing in your life, and if you don't believe in the legitimacy of the condition, whatever. Honestly. Go ahead and muse about things which you don't understand. Kick someone when they are down. Insult the family members left behind. Say hurtful and horrible things that proclaim to the world your cruelty and ignorance. Keep on living in your bubble of obliviousness where the world plays out just as you believe it should.
Or, you know, maybe, just maybe stop and think about something for a second. Think about this.
Do you honestly believe that someone would choose to be depressed given any other option?
I sure as hell don't, and I know that to be true because I have been there. Personally. Stuck. I've been in some dark, evil places. Places so bad that I never even imagined they could even exist. I wasn't there because I wanted to be or because I wanted to stay there. Don't judge that which you don't understand.
The Unleashing of the Back to School Judgments
I don't know if it is just my perception about things lately, or if this is really a trend that is happening for sure, but I know that I'm being irritated far more this year about the back to school articles and blog posts than normal.
I think part of it is that writers, bloggers in general, are suffering more than a bit from sanctimommyitis lately. There are more than a few people out there willing to proclaim to the world that they've mastered parenting, that they are doing it right. They have no hesitation about judging other parents, judging other kids.
More and more of these websites are running slanted article submissions, stirring up arguments just for views, throwing fuel on the mommy wars then sitting back and watching the view count tick upwards. It's gross, honestly, when you take a step back and see it for what it really is.
All these writers and the people leaving comments and the people sharing the drama, they are really just standing in the middle of the ring, scrapping it out with blood, sweat, tears and CAPS LOCK arguments...and who is benefiting? Oh, yeah....that website hosting it all.
Man, I am getting cynical in my old age.
The posts that are bothering me the most this BTS season are the one that tell us, usually in some kind of top ten format, all the things that we need to teach our daughters. Or the things that our girls need to know. Or the ten things girls should avoid doing in middle school or high school.
Maybe I've really embraced this hippie feminism thing too much, but I see all these gender specific articles as reaching, as unnecessary, as destructive.
Are the things we should be teaching our daughters about being passionate, about being cautious, about taking chances, about finding themselves really lessons we shouldn't teach our sons? Are there really that many people out there who believe that there are vast differences in how we should bring up boys and girls?
I'm raising my kids to be genuine, authentic, passionate, tolerant, kind, compassionate, and a whole bunch of other things. I'm teaching them to respect the boundaries of others and form their own. I want them to be strong and independent and confident. Boys and girls. My lessons and hopes for them, my struggles with them and their triumphs, have nothing to do with whether they are genetically male or female.
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