someone recently asked me why i sit here, typing away on my laptop, asking me, why…why do you have the blog?
the answer, i thought, was simple. i remember when i created the blog in february. i was feeling lost, angry at the mental illness stigma and because i work in the film industry i was really pissed at tom cruise after his matt lauer interview. a friend had a blog and i thought, why not. it would be a place to vent. a few weeks later i posted a blog titled: hard times. the title came from a song stephen foster wrote. he also wrote “oh, susanna” and he’s a distant relative of mine. a severely mentally ill man and an alcoholic, he died alone at the age of 37. at that time i wrote that blog, i felt very alone and feared i would too die alone. i didn’t want to die alone someday, but decided, if i did, i wanted to go out at least attempting to open up, to share with others, to open a few eyes to the mental illness stigma that still exists in our world. soon after i started the blog, i received emails from complete strangers. people who also felt alone. and lost.
and so began months of typing. writing. sharing. i would be lying if i told you this blog was for everyone but me. it has been beyond therapeutic. and strangely enough, more therapeutic than the many $150/hour sessions i’ve had with therapists over the last twenty years. that is saying a lot. but yesterday reminded me again of why i started this blog.
i received a phone call from my favorite aunt congratulating me on my recent marriage. she’s been working on our family genealogy for several years and she told me it’s almost complete. she was excited because she knows i’ve been looking forward to it. her mother, my grandmother, died when i was nineteen and in the middle of a severe bout of depression. i remember i was in the family room at my parents house (i was living with them after a dark period in my life…) and my mother was upstairs. the phone rang, she answered and i heard i loud cry. i heard sobbing. it was painful. after a long battle with diabetes her mother had died. what i know now is that her mother also suffered from depression. and not your “sad days here and there” depression. she spent years in foster homes. she was sexually abused. she took many pills over the course of her life and had several ect treatments. my aunt has been very open about her mother’s illness. i told her yesterday i have always felt a connection with her mother, my grandmother, and i feel she is with me. watching over me.
my aunt said, “you know, years ago people didn’t understand people like you or your grandmother. today, people do. we know that sometimes you have a hard time dealing with things in life.” a hard time. i don’t fault her for not understanding that depression is an illness unlike any other. that these just aren’t hard times. i wish it were that simple. sure, they are not locking me up. but, if i cried “i want to kill myself” they would. if i told someone i was hearing voices they would. if i missed several days or weeks of work because a mental illness paralyzed me at times and not due to a physical illness, i would be fired. (although, i could sue…) it’s different today, however, because at least now, i can talk about it. i can write about it. fifty years ago most people would look away and pretend you did not exist. you were crazy. and most importantly, you were alone. today, we have thousands of people, online, writing about their mental illness. sharing with others.
and we don’t feel so alone anymore.