invincible summers

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

why September 24, 2006

Filed under: life,mental illness — clementine @ 7:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

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.

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hard times March 8, 2006

i was born in the midwest. spent 18 years in the midwest. small town U.S.A. where people talked about sports, the weather, the crops and well, that's about it. county fairs, apple pies, small town gossip, white picket fences, 4-h clubs. you get the picture. nothing wrong with this- it just wasn’t for me. i longed to talk to someone about something. someone to share my dreams and fears and pains with. i did not have anyone. i was alone. and so i escaped. some turn to books or music. film became my passion. monty clift, jimmy stewart, gregory peck, bogart, bacall, bette davis, katharine hepburn.

years later i escaped the midwest. and years later i began a career in the film industry. you could say my passion paid off. but i am still alone.

i am not working and i have too much time on my hands- i have turned to music. i was downloading a few songs from the soundtrack of a film i worked on a year or so ago. we filmed in kentucky. i noticed the lyrics to one song were written by a relative of mine: stephen foster. i know that he was related to my great great grandmother on my fathers side of the family. this is all i know. after all my family doesn't talk about the past. there are many skeletons in the closet. but why dig them up? could it be that they would shatter the perfect image of the perfect family. this is what i do know of my family: depression, suicides, foster homes, electric shock treatments, alcoholism and drug abuse. this could be said for many. but we don’t talk about these things. i have attempted and failed. i want to know the stories, i want to know how to do it differently. instead i float through life trying to figure it out on my own. i long for some light in this darkness. i should change the heading of my blog. these are no longer casting ramblings. these are ramblings of a lost girl. trying to make sense of it all. just when i think i have found some light- it goes away. suddenly the world seems like such a big place and i don't know where i fit in. i wonder if i should switch careers. i wonder how i will pay my bills. i wonder if anyone will ever get me. i wonder if i will always be alone.

stephen foster spent his last years in an alcoholic haze. no longer able to command royalties for his songs, he cranked them out for a flat fee. he died at the age of 37, leaving little behind save a worn leather purse containing 38 cents and a scrap of paper on which he’d scribbled a lyric fragment; dear friends and gentle hearts…

he was alone. i do not want to be alone.

hard times
Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor.
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears,
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered on around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door.
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say,
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
There's a song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away
With a worn heart, whose better days are o'er.
Though her voice it would be merry, 'tis sighin' all the day,
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door.
Oh, hard times, come again no more.
-Stephen Foster
b. july 4, 1826
d. january 13, 1864