Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I am a native daughter. I know/don't totally know crazy.

I suppose I know a great deal about mental health. There are folks who know more than I do. I say that both with childishly (intonation) and authoritatively (though, that's semi-childish too).

I can't/don't diagnose. I'm too flexible, inflexible for that.
Not that they are cousins, but I think most of us are crazy, as I think most of us are, well, other things too: inter-ethnic, gay, existing on some continuum for which there aren't clear cut distinctions. Sue me.

However, I get lots of folks sharing with me. I get friends who disclose. I sit hollow eyed, feeling willful as I hold my breath. I want to say: Hmmm, you sound a little like you are [insert diagnosis]. I want to ask about meds. I question my chosen field. And sometimes I don't.

I'm no doctor. I don't play one on TV. I'm a painfully terrible actor. I wouldn't be able remember lines. I balk at the DSM V, VI, IV whatever the hell it is now. I call it vee instead of five. That elicits laughter in true doctor circles, even the mental ones'd likely titter.

I am a native daughter. I know crazy. I like to think I ain't, but, I think we all are. I am displaying my own evidence of inconsistency.

I was thinking, recently, about what folks could consider a poignant moment; the day I disclosed my pregnancy to my mother. I was in my 7th month; a quirk of genetics (mostly height) that kept me barely showing. My soon to be daughter was a fit of movement beneath my ribs. It was raining. I was as usual, a ball of nerves: of anticipation, some would say anxiety as I approached their brownstone.

Ring of a doorbell, doors opened, shut. The news was told. Awaited/waited: an episode. A shriek. Anger. Perhaps she'd throw something. I received a warm once-over. A hug. My mother startled, as any grandmother-to-be at what was being revealed to her. A new line; a new place for her to be. A new person I was growing.

I nearly erupted from the brownstone. I carried enough love and acceptance from this once source of unknowingness, an experience the word pain is too trite/too separate to be lent to; I left feeling so accepted and connected, so part of a family, and I hadn't even labored yet.

I cried; filling a long narrow tube within me with individually lain tears; they fell with the a sense of precision, of exactness that tears can't typically pull off. It was unrealistic. I anticipated a logical outcome: this woman with reality issues, my news, how it required a level of organization her diagnosis likely wouldn't/couldn't accept. The reality: my mother hadn't come undone.

I supposed and was supposed to know a great deal about mental health, about my mother, about people with like diagnoses. But, thankfully there are folks who know more than I do.

Thanks Mummi, for being one of them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vulnerable (strength).

I had a conversation with a friend today; a good friend, a noble friend. She like me has a family, a small one, a miniature-mirror in her child. They argue, fret. Mostly in unison, definitely in awe of the other. I do that. I understood.

I told her a story about my three year old; spirited in her freshness, vulnerable—she once cried (ok, thrice) when a cockroach was left behind by his master returning to outer-space, in some movie. And again, when she watched me nearly retch over an argument with a loved one. Put those tears away Mummah. The sun is out, my baby girl once said. And I love her for that and/but you know what:

My child makes me nuts. I have a nutty if her Kelsey Kounters are strewn across the floor. If she refuses to pay attention when she’s making the letter Z with too many arms, or if she forgets her name ends in A and not her favorite letter of the week. I am what my positive parenting book boasts as authoritative. I want to throw that damn book in the trash.

My child makes me proud. I’ve grown to not give a complete shit if people don’t want to hear how she speaks with the level intonation of a learned adult, that she recognizes the varying hue ethnic difference can and does lend to people, that she knows Santa is fake and God is as real as she is. I am what my positive parenting book boasts as supportive. I want to throw that damn book in the trash and write my own.

So, conversation with friend had me thinking. And a lot of times we start with us; as in, I can hear what she’s saying, what reality does this spin for me? How can I draw from what I know (about me) to share with her? And I realized, in the advice I attempted to share with her, I needed to press my ears to my own palms; to make sense out of the own song of my faintly thumping heartbeat.

I told her to be kind to herself, to understand that vulnerability is too, it’s own kind of strength, that good intentions most definitely do count. And, to recognize that you get what you get because you’re supposed to and can handle it. And, perhaps somewhat less tritely, that she is good, great and doing right by her kid.

Sometimes, we have to listen to the advice we give others, give it to ourselves. Remind ourselves of how hard and hearty our lives can be, at 7 AM, on the way to the school dance, making sandwiches for a play school lunch, declining ice-cream for breakfast.

And I hope that makes sense, and perhaps more than that, I hope she/we realize how much right we do, when we intend to.

I'm thinking, at least, I have some work to do.

So, if you see me doing said work with my hands pressed to my ears, I'm likely finding my own rhythm in the drumming song between palm and a pulsating inner ear/heatbeat. Though this is a blog about mental health, so, you know, don’t rule anything out.