Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pigs, Rainbows, and the Invisible Gun

I don't really want to write tonight.  My molar hurts and I don't know if it's one of the ones I know needs to be worked-on or not.  I refuse to deal with it or acknowledge it.  I want to stay lying on my stomach in my daughter's pinkly-lit room on her bed, next to her, with my little son on the makeshift trundle on my right.  I want to lie with the beginning chapters of Charlotte's Web on my mind, dimly remembering playing on and under the unfinished basement steps of my childhood, pretending to be Templeton, the rat, after watching the cartoon special.  In those days, you could see between the steps and children could play in the space under them, in the
safety of the home that could never not be your home, with mother and father to guarantee that you would be forever loved and safe, before you cared what others thought.  The basement smelled of freshly cut lumber.  The table saw could be so loud!  Daddy was working finishing that basement little by little.  The cartoon special of Ricki Ticki Tavi was out around this time too.  My kids will remember my voice as Charlotte first, not the one from the TV.  So there's at least that to counter the hours of Dora and Diego.  Lying on her bed, listening to Midnight Oil, listening to my daughter breathe and my little son snore below, I know this is precious time when they are right here and I know that they are safe and content.  I know it will not always be so.  I push the memory of the ex-heroin-using daughter of a friend out of my mind.  That seemed to eventually turn out OK and I don't want to ruin my experience.

For some reason, I am itching right now to segway into how I know that in my suburban life, with my inconvenient mental illness, and mortgage, and husband, and kids, and dog, and hybrid vehicle that there are no causes for angst equal to the suffering that has been or is now in the world.  It goes without saying, really, given my being a US citizen at this time in history.  But I am so tired of that.  It isn't a contest.  And anyway, if you have two individuals:  one being made to dig their own grave at gunpoint and another who is not under those circumstances but whose brain is flooded with the exact same concentration of neurochemicals and axons firing in the same paths such as to equalize the second's emotional experience to the first...what difference does it make?

What difference does it make if one experiencing, chemically, the same level of cortisol and whatever other chemicals that give the human physiological stress and grief and fear responses as a second person whose identical psychological experience is caused by real outside forces?  Is it not worse for first person, the mentally ill person, knowing that their suffering is without justifiable cause and therefore positioning them for criticism by themselves or others who would point out the lack of equivocating horrible circumstances?  What does that make you if you are not faking, not being over-dramatic, but simply responding to the physiological neural stimulation you are receiving as a real pain and grief and fear?  If you are actually having the experience of being buried alive or experiencing the same levels of physiological and psychological terror without the external stimulus, does it make a difference?  Perhaps, but if that difference turns out to be negligible, then the answer is no.

So no, I don't live in Syria right now.  I have no external justification for anxiety at the levels I might experience (and did last fall and in 2005 and 1997 and earlier).  That doesn't change the fact that the experience is excruciating for every moment it lasts.  If you get attacked by a shark or are just treated to the proper stimulation to give you the exact neurological response to this experience without actually swimming, aside from the pain of the slashing, just talking terror whatever else you feel, it makes no difference in the experience.  Conversely, there are probably many people in much more disparate circumstances than my own who have superior neurological stamina and who, despite experiencing something that would drive me over the edge, maintain lower levels of stress response than I do.  Is that person having a more positive emotional experience despite the stimulus?  Possibly so.  So don't tell me to be thankful for everything I have and add the guilt of quotations about the opportunities of each new day decorated with rainbows and unicorns and smiley faces when I am bawling and freaking out in my car outside Starbucks.  Mind your own damn business and stop making the rest of us feel less than for not being physiologically able to feel more than.  You can't see it, but there's a gun to my head and a shovel in my hand, sharks at my feet and ants in my eyes.

...OK then.  That was not what I was expecting to write.  I'm going to take this as my cue to grab some NyQuil.  I actually had a good day today, no panic attacks, weeping or anything.  But I was on Pinterest a good bit and there are  always those aggressively optimistic epithets that always just make me feel guilty and oppressed because usually I can't be all perky and bubbly and grateful and rosy-cheeked even though I am being told I should.  Right.  OK, so brush teeth and unconsciousness and dreams where I am how I should be according to what is reasonable and right.  No crazies, no fat, no snoring, no people getting blown up while I shop at Target or women being raped as I count calories, no beloved old dogs going to die soon or lost childhoods or homes, no crowns to be replaced or 40th birthdays coming up.  That's the plan.

...  ...  ...  ...

The plan failed.  It is now 1:26AM and I've been googling for images to choose for this post and feeling more and more guilty for writing so strongly when there is and has been such awful suffering in the world.  I know the point I was trying to make above and it's true when you're right there experiencing it, but the difference is that I have an after that is better, or the possibility of an after that is better.  So I don't know now.  It's alright from the perspective of a privileged person like me, but if I were an Afghan or Syrian or female genital mutilation victim or victim of any other real injustice, I think this would piss me off, even if you grant the technical point.  THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT DEPRESSION CAN BE TREATED.  IT CAN BE TEMPORARY.  That doesn't undo the experience, but there is a possible path out, which is missing for so many.  Anyway, here are some of the visuals that I found to share.

Hm...nothing credible comes to mind...

Oh PLEASE!  You have obviously never
been able to not control your thoughts.


shark1.jpg from

 OK, now it is 2:56 and about 20 minutes ago my three-year-old son cried out, "Mommy!"  "Whaaaat?" I called back.  "I looove you!"  He had gotten up and was heading for our bed.  I picked him up and put him back in his bed and smelled his hair and kissed him and watched him until he fell asleep.  Which leads me to my last graphic:

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