Category Archives: In Real Life

Posts that focus on more personal stories based on my life.

Just Say “Screw It” to Pesky Anxieties

I have this quirk to my anxiety about small, grocery store purchases.  I worry here and there about and waste time fretting over small price differences that don’t mean jack in the grand scheme of things.

For example, I have a preferred brand of peanut butter and it’s a bit pricier because of its nutritional value – sometimes as much as a dollar or more higher than your regular Skippy or Peter Pan.

So what do I do? I stand there looking at a whole shelf of alternatives wondering if I should really spend that extra dollar or so to get what I really want and when I choose it, then I feel a little guilty for not being a more frugal shopper. And all the while, I’ve burned precious mental energy debating an utterly meaningless decision. It’s not like world peace is hanging in the balance.

Continue reading Just Say “Screw It” to Pesky Anxieties

Facebook Drama – Seriously?

"No, I don't watch soap operas. I have Facebook"Have you experienced prolonged or repeated episodes of drama on Facebook? Do you find yourself complaining about the drama on Facebook?  Or worse, have you taken a “break” from Facebook because of all the drama? *Caution: I sense a rant coming*

My guess – and it’s only a guess – is that those persons who seem to get repeatedly embroiled in Facebook drama possibly do so in real life as well and may contribute as much to the drama as anyone else.  The curious thing is that they seem to think it is always someone else causing the drama and maybe it is, but maybe, just maybe, it isn’t all someone else’s fault.

If there is too much drama in your Facebook life then take a look in the mirror, re-evaluate your online relationships, and online behaviors.  Ask yourself if the online dramas reflect your real life dramas? And, if Facebook dramas don’t mirror real life dramas, then maybe it’s simply time to re-evaluate how you use social media rather than whether you use it.

After all, Facebook – like isn’t inherently good or bad – it’s what you do with it that matters.  Kind of like most things in life.

Why do I write this? Is it because of drama in my Facebook life? Hell, no … my Facebook life is entertaining but relatively pedestrian.  Sure, I occasionally make a stupid remark and have been called on it, but we all do that at times – in real life and in cyberspace. Big deal. Apologize, learn from it, and move on.

I write this because I hate to see friends – even acquaintances – in distress.  I write this because of the few times I’ve seen friends suddenly and needlessly disappear from Facebook or other social media due to the drama.  Guess what? If you flee rather than deal with the issues then not only are you deprived of the benefits of social networking but your friends are deprived of you and left to worry if something is really wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a person needs to take a break from Facebook and other social media as well as e-mail and the Internet generally. A healthy break that helps clear your head and re-set is good, but a break that doesn’t lead to resolution of a situation or positive changes that will prevent recurrences is something of a meaningless act. In those cases you’ve let the drama push you away rather than dealing with the underlying issues.

With all that said, some may wonder if I’m being hypocritical by complaining about drama. I’m not complaining about drama on Facebook, but I am concerned about those who repeatedly complain about drama and then don’t do anything positive to eliminate the drama in a healthy way. There’s a difference. And if you need help dealing with the drama – just ask.

Before I call it a night there is one disclaimer that I must make for fear of generating drama on my own and I’ll take a cue from TV and film to say:

“This is almost a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living, dead or undead, is entirely coincidental.”

Hard Truths for Mental Health Crusaders

Hard Truths BannerGod love advocates for people with mental illness, but sometimes their attempts to reduce stigma ignore the hard realities of life. For example, a recent article used the revelations about Jesse Jackson Jr’s bipolar disorder to launch into a generic lecture on mental health stigma that had virtually nothing to do with Mr. Jackson’s specific experience.

So of course, I’ll use their article to launch into a rant about those who so blindly want to protect people with a mental illness that they instead give the impression we are fragile beings who need protecting from a cold, cruel society that doesn’t always understand our plight.  With that said, let’s take a look at two points – one good and one bad – made in the article which you can read here.

Mental Illness vs. Physical Illness

The well-meaning article states, “a classic example of mental health stigma—the idea that mental illnesses are somehow fundamentally different from physical ailments and that they permanently affect a person’s judgment and competence in a negative way …”

Today, it’s in vogue to blame chemical imbalances or perhaps structural anomalies in the brain as the cause of mental illness.  This is a way of trying to equate a mental illness with conditions such as cancer. I have no doubt it is true in some cases. However, the author is wrong in suggesting that mental illness is not fundamentally different. It absolutely is different regardless of the underlying cause.

Ask a person who has struggled for 20 or 30 years with severe depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia if they would gladly trade a limb – a hand, arm, foot – for a lifetime of good mental health. I would.

Mental illness is fundamentally different – perhaps not in having an underlying cause – but in how it impacts our lives. Suggesting otherwise ignores reality.

The Person is the Illness

The article states, “These myths of mental illness result in a wholesale blaming of the diagnosis for virtually everything the patient thinks and does. Relationship problems? It is the depression talking. Difficulty with medication? If it were not for the mental illness, he would willingly take it. The list can go on and on, and it sometimes causes people with mental health conditions to feel like they are defined by their diagnosis alone.”

The author is right about this perception. I’ve experienced this reaction even from persons who are wholeheartedly supportive.  For example, I remember a brief and relatively meaningless period several years ago when things just weren’t clicking in life.  It was just a rough couple weeks like anyone – healthy or not – might experience from time to time; however, I remembered being asked “how are you doing?” and from the tone it seemed clear the person wasn’t asking generically but had my history of depression and anxiety in mind as they assumed it was the cause.

Their intentions were good, but it made me feel that much worse. Today, I know that sometimes I just need a thicker skin.

My point is this – life with a mental illness or prolonged periods of mental illness are fundamentally different from a typical physical ailment. This is true whether it is how society reacts to us or otherwise in how it impacts our thinking, emotions and daily functioning.

So here is a provocative question for those with experience with serious illness: would you trade it for a serious physical condition such as the loss of a limb, cancer, partial paralysis or something else?