Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ignorance is Bliss

I don't know how long it's been since my last blog post, and since I rarely update here I suppose this could be considered more of an erratic journal than a blog. Every now and then something begs to be written, and this is one of those days.

I believe that I've posted before about my depression. It is, unfortunately, still with me, despite my being on medication and in therapy. I've been receiving treatment for 4 months from my local CMH agency, and while my symptoms have improved somewhat, I'm dealing with a severe and chronic condition. Most of the time it is quite disabling.

What I have is known as "double depression." It is dysthymia, which is a chronic, low mood which is experienced for 2 years or more. (In my case, many, many years.) I also have episodes of major depressive disorder, which is shorter-lived, but with more extreme symptoms. In addition, I also have a fairly major social phobia. Despite the fact that I am in weekly therapy, and I eat Effexor for breakfast, my symptoms continue.

One of the distinguishing traits of people with DD is excessive guilt and hopelessness. These symptoms are at higher levels than people who suffer MDD or dysthymia alone. I guess it's not hard to understand-- if you live each day in a low mood state, with little energy, ambition, and feelings of guilt and sadness, alternating with major depressive breakdowns, it would start to feel pretty hopeless. And believe me, it does.

But one thing I've noticed, especially in the past year or so, is how aware it's made me of my own condition, and of people around me. I wish I could say that in my darkest days I've seen the good in the world shine through, giving me a renewed hope that I'll be okay. That's not the case at all.

What I see are people living their own lives with little, to any, regard of the suffering of others. I have been treated rudely and cruelly in my efforts to sign up for disability. I've been overlooked by my dhs office when they were my only hope at putting food on the table. I have read comments by people I know that blame people receiving food stamps and cash assistance for their own problems. And believe me, nobody beats me up over my ineptitude/inability to function in the world more than I. But how did it get this way?

Although I struggle financially, compared to the rest of the world I know I'm doing pretty well. I have clean water coming from my faucets, healthy food to eat, technology to enjoy, a roof over my head. My children are healthy and I have pets that I love. Despite my mental illness that prevents me from enjoying most things, I'm pretty lucky.

I still give stuff to the local thrift shop instead of selling it, because our local churches use their profits to buy food for people whose food stamps don't stretch as far as mine. I give as much as I can, which sadly isn't much, because I am currently living in poverty.

I see all around me people who are better off, but don't seem to feel better-off-enough. People drive $40,000 cars (the price which I sold my HOUSE for). People buy $100k plus houses. iphones, mall clothes, designer handbags. When I see these things, I don't feel jealousy, or envy. I feel sad.

I think about a mother somewhere, in Africa, or India, or even America, with a hungry child. A mother who walks miles every day to get clean water, who carries it back for her babies. There are mamas out there that watch their children die from hunger. Right now, that very thought has filled my eyes with tears. I hope she doesn't know that somewhere in the world, a woman bought a handbag which cost the same amount of money as saving her child's life. That would be unbearable. That IS unbearable.

Maybe it's my disease, my feelings of hopelessness and guilt, that make me focus on things like this. But that doesn't matter. The fact is, we carry on with our lives as if people aren't suffering out there, and we tell ourselves that we deserve the nice things we buy ourselves because we worked hard, and we earned it.

This is not true. The people who walk miles for water, who live in shacks, who die of treatable diseases, and who lose their kids to hunger deserve it more than we do.

It is my mission that for the remainder of my life I will not buy for myself what I do not need if there is something less expensive that will suffice. I will give everything I can to those in need, and I will never accept that "this is just the way the world is." Those that do are only lying to themselves. They are undeserving of whatever blessings they have received in life if they do not know its cost.

That is all I have to say for today.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Alas, I am back after 8 or so months away. I'm a terrible blogger, I know. I'm terrible at doing most things consistently. I'm hoping to train myself to become a better (read: consistent) writer, in this space, and others.

Today, my topic is meanness. As always, I look to the definition of a word before I explore the concept I think it represents. Hence:

Mean (adjective)
:  lacking dignity or honor, being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity.
a :  penurious, stingy
b :  characterized by petty selfishness or malice
c :  causing trouble or bother :

I ask you, reader, how many people have you encountered this week fitting this definition?
My answer is: In fiction, several. In real life, several.

I read a book with this title, written by an immensely talented author by the name of Renata Barcelos. It's available on Amazon, and it follows the path of a child abuse victim as she seeks revenge for the hand she was dealt. I've read all of Renata's books this week, as a matter of fact. You should too. She is great at getting in the head of dark and damaged people. I prefer these types of characters, in fiction.

In real life, not so much.

My other brush with meanness was on our friendly social networking base, Facebook. I commented on a funny, lighthearted post regarding the ineffectiveness of the local road commission. My comments were basically about how they sucked at their jobs, and if they were doctors they'd be fired for their incompetence. It was ranty, which I admitted outright, but my experience this winter has been atrocious at best. My husband even lost his job because he was unable to get out, or feared he wouldn't be able to get back home, so I had a horse in this race. Of course I was going to voice my opinion on the matter. To my shock and amazement, a wave of hostility and insults followed. "I'd like to know what you do so I could be ignorant and tell you how much you suck at it," a stranger told me. And, later, (paraphrasing) "I bet you work at a dollar store, if you work at all. Perhaps you are sucking up government aid?"

It took a moment for me to un-drop my jaw. The OP, in my defense, called them out on their offensiveness and rudeness. I was caught off-guard, because I had *no idea* who this person was, and I was criticizing an entity, not an individual. And it wasn't that I was bothered by the comments as they were directed toward me.  I can handle trolls and flamers and idiots all day. What unnerved me was the MEANNESS. What makes people think they have the right to treat other human beings in this way? Complete strangers? All because I insulted a road crew in a county where she doesn't even live? (Note: she later removed the comment, taking advantage of the internet privilege of deleting one's stupidity as if it never happened.)

If she's this way with me, I know she's behaving this way with other people.

And as a side note: There is *nothing* wrong with working at a dollar store, and being a road worker does not make one superior in any way.

(And the OP- bless her wonderful heart- said to me "I missed the day in Caste School that determined Road Commission workers were royalty.")

Today, on the same site, I came across these gems:

If you are a NICE, balanced person, these might be inspirational. But what if you aren't well-adjusted, how are you going to take it?

I ask myself... have people always been this mean? My answer is: I'm not sure. But I think the world is changing, and it's coming down to how we raise our children. We are afraid of criticism, afraid to let kids be criticized. We don't want to hurt their self-esteem. We love them, and we want them to know that we value them, no matter what. We want to treat them like the special snowflakes that they are. It's noble, for sure, but is it really doing them any good?


When we do this, we are raising monsters. Children that become adults that cannot handle failure or criticism. But because we've raised them to believe they are (essentially) perfect just the way they are, whatever they do, when the time comes that they do fail, they can't handle it. And perhaps more importantly, they will never blame themselves. They KNOW they are fine the way they are, no matter what. They've been getting gold stars on their papers for years... how could their college paper get an F? They attended class but they are still failing? Surely the kids getting A's are more favored by the teachers. How else could they be doing better?

When did we lose our ability to judge others on their merits and abilities, and decide to favor everyone equally instead, regardless of performance?

This scares me. Because this self-esteem movement doesn't produce a society where all people are equal. It results in below-average performers believing they are special. They don't appreciate what they have if they didn't have to work for it. And when they go out into the real world and discover they're not special, they don't take it with the kind of grace you'd see in someone that failed and struggled and learned from their mistakes in order to succeed. They blame others for their failures. They don't grow because they were hindered by their over-inflated ideas of self worth. That's not self-esteem. That's psychopathy.

And worst of all, they turn MEAN. They live below the normal standards of human dignity and decency.