invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

a voice for the mentally ill June 21, 2006

Filed under: mental illness — clementine @ 7:40 pm
Tags: ,

one in ten children, aged one to fifteen have a mental illness, says a report from the british medical association’s board of science. one in ten children. due to lack of government funding, mental health services are failing the most vulnerable, such as children in care of those from black and ethnic minorities.

dr. marcus roberts, head of policy at mental health charity mind, said: “this important report reminds us that environmental and social factors have a big effect on mental wellbeing, and also that services for young people’s mental health are frequently lacking. it’s crucial that the right kind of services are there to break what can become a cycle, wherein poverty contributes to mental distress, which in turn leads to unemployment, stigma and further poverty.”

can we break the cycle? can we break the mental illness stigma? what will it take? i was talking with a friend today and i told her the mentally ill need a voice. cancer has lance armstrong. diabetes has b.b. king. aids has many voices and until the mentally ill have a voice, the stigma will continue. that is a fact. breaking the stigma will help break the cycle.

if we break the stigma so many things will change. suicide rates will drop. unemployment rates will drop. we’ll see fewer homeless men, women and children. if people would just open their eyes and see that a mental illness (whether it be depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder or bipolar) is an illness like any other illness, this world will be a better place. instead, today, we turn our heads because we do not understand.

i have a mental illness and i have been medicated most of my adult life. this would be news to many of my friends and coworkers except i have told most of them. i have been working steadily in the same industry for eight years. my resume is full of wonderful projects, all films i’m so grateful to have been a part of. usually at work, i am that girl everyone goes to. for advice. with a question. a problem. you name it. if i don’t have the answer, i will get it. if i can’t fix it, i will find someone that can. i am thorough and i don’t sit back and watch things happen. and most importantly, i have fun, after all we’re only making a movie. and because of this, i’ve been fortunate enough to work and keep busy, most of the time. unfortunately, not all of the time.

when i’m not working, i have days, weeks, months off at a time. i usually sink into a deep depression after a job. it’s all or nothing. 16 hours a day—go, go, go, to—- oh, i don’t have to set the alarm for 5am, now what? fears and anxieties set in. friends and family tell me to get a temporary job and i sit frozen. i cannot explain this and each therapist has their own theory, none of which i believe. i am lucky. i am very lucky. there are people with a mental illness, just like mine, who can’t hold a job. they can’t leave their homes. they are homeless. they are in prison.

the difference between me and these people? i have friends that understand. their hearts and minds are open. my family is supportive, no matter what. they might not get me, but they support me 100 percent. my maternal grandmother had no one to confide in. she was alone. when she did attempt to discuss her pains, her fears- she was “the crazy one.” oh yes, so, things are better today—but they aren’t good. not at all. i keep talking, i keep venting…for my grandmother. because she couldn’t. i hope we break the mental illness stigma in my lifetime. i dream of a venue full of actors, musicians, artists, doctors, lawyers, teachers, stay-at-home moms— all who have a mental illness and they are all there to talk about it. to raise money for research. to raise awareness—for an illness that people do not understand.

do you turn away from someone who is sad? and not the “oh, i’m having a bad day” kind of sad- the kind of sadness, darkness that is almost always there. people might refer to her as “debbie downer” and they want absolutely nothing to do with her. and if i may ask…yes, i will, why? why do you turn away? look the other way? because he or she brings you down? because you only want sunshine in your life? and let me ask you this, lets say this friend or coworker is not depressed. let’s pretend he or she is diabetic, would you ignore them or turn the other way because you fear needles? because you like sugar? i don’t think so. and i ask again, WHY? if this is not you, well, thank you. unfortunately, millions of people do turn away.

i know this has been done many times over, but let me list just a few people, recognizable names who have/had a mental illness. people that are/were probably surrounded by people full of compassion, their hearts and minds were open. even if others didn’t believe in them, well, these people decided to believe in themselves:

john nash, carrie fisher, linda hamilton, ted turner, abraham lincoln, patty duke, ben stiller, patrick kennedy, jane pauley, mike wallace, kay redfield jamison, lionel aldridge, leo tolstoy, john keats, tennessee williams, stephen foster, james taylor, vincent van gogh, isaac newton, ernest hemingway, sylvia plath, michelangelo, winston churchill, vivien leigh, charles dickens, beethoven, robin williams, burgess meredith, tim burton, buzz aldrin, greg louganis, rosemary clooney, brian wilson, tom waits, jim carrey, patricia cornwell, francis ford coppola

with proper treatment and care, people with a mental illness are often productive, creative leaders in any given field. unfortunately we do not have the funding for proper care for most people with a mental illness and we certainly do not have enough people that care enough to say something about this or even better, do something.

we need a voice. we need your voice.


father’s day June 18, 2006

Filed under: family — clementine @ 7:41 pm
Tags: , , ,

i think of
you raking, piles of leaves
all orange, crisp and brown
a dollhouse, hammering away for many nights
santa and his sleigh in the yard
bright christmas lights
too many presents under the tree
your farm set was enough for me
bert and ernie on the tv
while inside with chickenpox, stuck
a buckeye in your pocket for good luck

i think of
snowmobiles and drifts of snow
steak subs and pizza dough
walks in the woods
those damn tree limbs
(it’s time to move kids!)
crackerjacks and chocolate wafers
soccer balls and tether ball poles
campfires, tents and smores
ouch! those stupid mole holes

i think of
that coal pail you carried, walking with a strut
hey, your boots made the final cut!
a fake moustache applied
no, you can’t have dialogue, nice try!
sweeping in a scene, with a broom
no, you can’t have a honeywagon room!
watching dolly sing in nashville
a prison guard walking on a grassy hill
a businessman at the courthouse
in a small kentucky town
and you did it all, just to see me
you, so happy and proud

i think of
your small mouth, just like mine
the way you look at us
love in your eyes, all the time
a warm smile
an even warmer heart
your unconditional love
a family not torn apart

please know, beneath it all
i am strong, thanks to you
you worry too much
i know this to be true
but please stop (or at least, not so much)
i want you here thirty,
even forty years from now
i’ll take forever if you’ll allow
you think you were hardly there
you were always there


antipsychotics=death too soon? June 12, 2006

Filed under: antipsychotics,mental illness — clementine @ 5:10 pm
Tags: ,

i've been saying for quite some time that many of the medications prescribed to treat depression, bipolar and schizophrenia, in particular, the atypical antipsychotics, have been linked to diabetes. according to one study, the development of diabetes has been reported to occur anywhere from 10 days to 18 months after starting therapy. one theory is that diabetes might result from the weight gain caused by these meds. among the mentally ill, roughly one in every five appear to develop diabetes – about double the rate of the general population. this is frightening. i think i need another blood sugar test, immediately.

my maternal grandmother died from complications of diabetes. my father is diabetic. several doctors, after reviewing my family medical history have put me on atypical antipsychotics. finally, and only recently have i put my foot down. even after i voiced my concerns, the meds were still pushed. i wonder why. hmmmm.

recently, i was enjoying lunch with my sister and my father. we were in a hospital cafeteria because my mother had surgery the previous day. emotions were running high, yes, but at some point my sister mentioned a friend of hers who is a pharmaceutical rep. she spoke of how her friend spends her day. drops her son off at daycare. work. home by noon. lounges around reading US magazine, etc. etc. etc. i burst into tears. both my father and sister stared at me…asking…what is wrong??!! i grabbed my napkin and wiped away the tears…never making eye contact with them. and i never said a word. in the past, i have voiced my anger towards pharmaceutical companies with my family. maybe they forgot, i don't know. but this conversation really upset me. i spend a lot of money…so much money…it sickens me…on meds that DO NOT WORK most days. this has been going on for years…fifteen plus years. we still, after all these years, do not have meds that work. these pharmaceutical companies pay their employees very well, to work, say 4-7 hours a day, passing out meds that do not work. it is unacceptable. the money should be used for say, research. let's find a drug or several that work. is that too much to ask??? no, i think not. so, eli lilly, johnson & johnson, pfizer inc, bristol-myers squibb, novartis and astrazeneca, take note would you? it's about money with all of you and people are dying. (more…)


33 feels good June 10, 2006

Filed under: life — clementine @ 5:12 pm

so, it was my birthday yesterday. it was a good day, spent in one of my favorite cities, cincinnati. and spent with my friend of 29 years. the last few weeks have been complicated, i've been a mess. i haven't been posting much here, instead i turned to a journal and spent those weeks releasing some pains and attempting to find closure. i have found, for the first time, writing can, well, it has saved me. but i am drained. which is exactly why i left town for the weekend. to clear my mind. and besides my last three birthdays were all spent on location working 16 hour days. it's just another day, yes, but a day this year i chose to spend with someone i love dearly.

i went to a reds game for the first time since the days of pete rose and johnny bench. it wasn't the same, and they lost, but it was fun. two hotdogs, just like the old days. and my friend bought me a fabulous reds hat, i'm a girl who loves a good hat. later today (after i sleep, i hope) we will walk this city i adore and enjoy each moment.

tonight my friend sleeps and i sit here in the hotel room, my mind spinning. three job offers, all which will take me out of my comfort zone—one which would require me putting everything in storage and working out of town for nine months. one in vegas. the other, austin for several months. years ago, i would drop everything and leave. i wouldn't look back. maybe it's getting older, i don't know…but it's not easy and it's no longer fun.

i will return home and weigh the pros and cons i suppose. so much for clearing my mind. ah, but 33 feels good. i will take this over 23 any day.