the lost little spark of madness


You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.
~ Robin Williams July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014

Unbelievable!

My daughter Abby described the feeling of hearing the news of Robin Williams’ death this afternoon perfectly. It was as if suddenly all laughter and joy was sucked out of the atmosphere.

Unreal!

To hear his death was by suicide and that he had been struggling mightily of late with severe depression made it all the more palpable for me…for so many. Sometimes the most gifted, the most brilliant, the most talented, the people who touch your hearts with the most laughter, joy and love are the ones living in the darkest depths of despair.

If you only knew.

I know.

I know too well. I was raised in that despair. I am living in that now. God what hard work it is to live every day like this!

My heart breaks for this huge void left in the world, for the heartbreaking loss his loved ones must now live with. Still I give thanks…for the laughter, so much laughter…for opening my eyes to a different, delightful world view seeing the humor, the laughter and the joy in the simplest of things every day. I give thanks for his truly amazing body of work and the fact that each one of my children could recall their favorite characters he portrayed…except for Mork…none of them knew about Mork from Ork.

GAH!

Kids!

The first thing I intend to do is go through his vast filmography and binge for the next few days. There’s nothing else on TV worth watching right now so why not? Yes, introduce this circus act of mine to Mork from Ork is on that agenda for sure.

The next thing I intend to do is go to my doctor for help because the depression and anxiety I live with is becoming again too much. The usual self care is just not cutting it lately. When your young son points out that he doesn’t like your overwhelming sadness well, yeah, it’s time to ask for help. I have no shame in that. There should be no shame, no hiding, no fear of being mocked or looked down upon as weak, no brushing depression aside as a “lesser” disease. No one should feel shamed to ask for help. I’m asking for more help.

I’m also sharing thoughts and information from a February 2010 post about suicide, anxiety and depression because people need to know…people need to care.

It’s Never Painless
originally posted February 27, 2010

My heart just breaks for Andrew Koenig‘s family and the family of Michael Blosil,  Marie Osmond’s son. I can’t imagine any parent that would not feel for the pain they must be in right now.

Living with depression is hard. Living with a loved one with depression is hard. I don’t doubt how hard it was for Koenig’s and Osmond’s family. I don’t doubt the pain both young men suffered through and the pain their families are in is more than evident. Still I have a hard time with those who choose ending their life as a way to end the pain. Walter Koenig spoke of how despondent his son was and how low he sunk in his despair but I would suggest that this wasn’t the case. I don’t doubt the depression he shares that his son had suffered from but it takes energy to do something about the depression one suffers from. The same would be for Michael Blosil as well. It takes energy to seek help or accept help and it takes energy to decide to end it all.

I speak from my own experiences. Working on recovering from depression I know how hard it is. This last year has been so hard, so very hard. It is hard-freakin’ work. I also know watching my own mother living with bipolar disorder over the years that it takes energy to take your life or attempt to take your life. In the lowest, most despondent times of her life mom never had the energy to do much of anything. She physically could not. As a child I did not understand why she could not get off of the couch and why she would remain in the same clothes for days just curled up in a limp ball there. I just knew that in worst days this was how it was. This was her life…and it was our life. It was when mom would get up off the couch that I would worry because that is when she would do something and her doing something would be to attempt to take her life. She attempted this a number of times when I was a child. She never was successful. Years later in a more candid, close moment she shared with me the depths of her pain and how she just wanted it to end. She admitted that she really didn’t think of anything else. She just wanted the crushing, crippling pain to end. I told her then and I still believe now that had she been successful in any of her attempt the pain would not be over. No. The pain would remain. It would remain with her children, with her parents, her husband, her siblings. We would carry her pain. We would carry it with us always.

Suicide is not painless. The pain remains.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:

  • difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • fatigue and decreased energy
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • irritability, restlessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • overeating or appetite loss
  • persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) — or the deaf hotline at 1-800-4889.

Warning signs of suicide with depression include:

  • a sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • always talking or thinking about death
  • clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights
  • losing interest in things one used to care about
  • making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • saying things like “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”
  • talking about suicide (killing one’s self)
  • visiting or calling people one cares about

Remember, if you or someone you know is demonstrating any of the above warning signs of suicide with depression, either call your local suicide hot line, contact a mental health professional right away, or go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to help, to hug, to talk, to be there.

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas change the world. ~ Robin Williams

 

it’s still raw


A year later….a year after a friend and colleague, and her husband were so suddenly, cruelly, violently taken in such a shocking manner, it is still raw. I didn’t think that it would be. Like everyone else who knew her, I’ve hitched up my big girl panties. Yes, cried sometimes. Laughed sometimes too imagining what she might have said or done. Cried a little when it seemed that she said hello at work that one time. I still catch my breath and gulp back a tear or more when I see her garden outside of Room 3 when I get to work…when I get to work.

A year later we remembered because I can’t imagine that we will ever forget someone so remarkable. We all remembered and honored her and her husband in our own ways. We all were not together but we all remembered still. Some of us gathered with her daughter tonight and remembered.

God that was hard!

Her little girl’s physical, emotional, spiritual, psychic pain was so real, so raw. I just can not imagine. I don’t think any one of us could ever understand, ever know unless we too lost someone we have known and loved our entire lives taken so violently away from us. The mommy in me wishes I could take that pain away from their daughter. The mommy in me prays none of my children ever know that pain I witnessed today.

Those of us who gathered with their daughter stood together in Jacob Myers Park in Riverbank before the tree planted in their memory with a plaque placed before it. Dwarfed right now by 14 trees in what is known as Bicentennial Grove, it will soon enough someday catch up to their towering grandeur as it guards the entrance to that beautiful grove here in the Central Valley.

It’s a place to pause, to sit and reflect. A place for us to remember. A place for anyone else to just take in the cool of the shade these trees provide, the green-ness all around, the sounds of nature and families at play and the occasional startling rumbling overhead from the trains passing on the bridge nearby. It’s a place where I am reminded that we “hitch up our big girl panties“, as Janet would often say in some of the most stressful times in the NICU and we do that which we must do…we don’t forget, we don’t let go and we don’t stop.“…as her husband’s business partner reminded us tonight.

It’s still raw. It’s still so real. We don’t forget. We won’t let go. But we also don’t stop living as, I would imagine, our friend and colleague would expect of us all.

what not to do on an empty stomach


In life we all learn, usually the hard way, what we shouldn’t do on an empty stomach. At least I have learned that a number of times. Of course I learned it the hard way because I’m me.

  • take a very important test
  • work…guaranteed it will be the 12 hour shift from hell with little or no opportunity for a meal break much less a potty break
  • attend a few C-sections
  • run a 10K
  • grocery shop
  • jury duty

I could go on because too many times I have undertaken adventures on an empty stomach in spite of the fact that I know too well what happens to me when my blood sugar plummets.

But there is one thing one should do on an empty stomach, or perhaps with just a light snack beforehand and that is to see The Hundred Foot Journey.

I had the opportunity to see this film a couple of weeks ago while at BlogHer.

In “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, the Kadam family, led by Papa (Om Puri), settles in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the
south of France. Filled with charm, it is both picturesque and elegant
– the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, Maison
Mumbai. That is, until the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur,
a Michelin-starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory
(Academy Award® winner Helen Mirren), gets wind of it.
Her icy protests against the new Indian restaurant a hundred feet from
her own escalate into a heated battle between the two establishments
until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine – and for Madame
Mallory’s enchanting sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) – combine
with his mysteriously-delicious talent to weave magic between their
two cultures and imbue Saint-Antonin with the flavors of life that even
Madame Mallory cannot ignore. Madame Mallory eventually recognizes
her culinary rival’s gift as a chef and takes Hassan under her wing.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” abounds with flavors that burst across the tongue. A stimulating triumph over exile, blossoming with passion and heart, it is a portrayal of two worlds colliding and one young man’s drive to find the comfort of home, in every pot, wherever he may be.
Exactly!
The actual distance from Le Saule Pleureur Restaurant to the Maison Mumbai is not far: one-hundred feet, no more, no less. It’s a journey…albeit a small one…that both the Kadam family and Madame Mallory make numerous times throughout the film, but it represents more than just the distance between these two locations. It’s that point in our lives where we step out of our comfort zone and cross over into unfamiliar territory on a quest of self-discovery.
Oh, and it’s a love story and a love story with food…so much delicious, glorious food that you can almost smell and taste it all while watching this film.
A victory of passion over prejudice, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is the convergence of two worlds through the power of acceptance and understanding and the unifying nature of food. I love what Helen Mirren said  about this film, “Don’t go to dinner until after you’ve seen this movie. Then go to a really nice French or Indian restaurant.” I would wholeheartedly say yes.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is presented by DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment, directed by Academy Award® nominee Lasse Hallström and stars Academy Award winner Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon. The film is produced by Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg, Academy Award
nominee Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake. The executive producers are Caroline Hewitt, Carla Gardini, Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King. The screenplay is written by Academy Award nominee Steven Knight, based on the novel “The Hundred-Foot Journey” by Richard C. Morais.
I was invited to a special screening of this film and received no compensation other than admission for two to the film and a small popcorn and soda. What I wouldn’t have given for some Chicken Tikka…just saying…

inclusion, exclusion, privacy, the 1st day of school and, sigh, picking the battles


Here under The Big Top we are officially BACK TO SCHOOL!

Can I hear a YEAH, BABY!!!??

OH, YEAH BABY!!!

And for the first time since 1997 I only have one child of mine heading back to school which means…

yeah, I know it means this is my last baby and all my babies are growing up…

More importantly, this means that I only had ONE ream of repetitive back to school paperwork to fill out, also known as “Mom-work” in Daniel’s classroom this year. For the record, I got my Mom-work done.

Leading up to the first day of school was so much excitement and nervous energy…totally normal I assure Daniel. Hazel excitedly shared the day before how she couldn’t wait to go to her school and see her name posted under the name of her assigned first grade teacher. Who would it be? She was so excited with the anticipation of it all as were pretty much every other K-8 child in this town. It’s part of the Back to School tradition.

Daniel wanted to be a part of that too. Last year we went to his school the day before the first day to view the class lists and…nothing. We downplayed it reminding him that we had the letter from the district telling him what school he would be going to and he wiped away the tears but not the worry…what if his name wasn’t there for a reason? But the next morning the principal assured him that yes he was at her school and in Mrs. B’s 4-6 SDC class. It’s privacy concerns she tells me when I ask why his class list wasn’t posted.

Privacy?

Privacy. People might KNOW that he is in the SDC class, she explains with a warm smile.

Um, okay. They already know.

So this year I decide to call the school and ask do I bother to drive over to the school. Do I put my child through that feeling of exclusion again?

You don’t need to come, I am told. Daniel will be in Mrs. B’s 4-6 SDC class.

Okay.

YES! Daniel is thrilled. Daniel is also kind of disappointed.

Disappointed? The principal wonders why.

Well, he doesn’t get to participate in that annual ritual of going to the school the day before the first day and looking for his name…and then the names of his friends.

I’m reminded again of the importance to respect his privacy which is why the SDC classes are never made public…at least at this particular campus in the MUSD district.

I think the principal heard my head thud on my desk because she then commented that I might not like that policy.

I don’t. Daniel (and his classmates in Mrs. B’s 4-6 class) are known on campus. All of them spend some length of time every day in mainstream classrooms. They participate in all activities on that campus. Everyone knows them.

Respecting their privacy?

I don’t get that.

My son, and his classmates might be differently abled. Perhaps they learn at a different pace or in a different way. Still they are included in classroom settings with their also “normal” abled peers…and the benefits abound. We’ve seen it in interactions through the years with Daniel’s teachers, with his classmates and with their families. And we have seen our son, and his SDC peers thrive…thrive in the least restrictive environment for them, for their classmates (normal and different), for their teachers and support staff and for the families. Yes, some families and even a few teachers struggle with this, but overall the results are positive all around on campus and I imagine, wish, hope and pray will continue to grow and flourish as my son becomes a young man.

No, I don’t get it. I respectfully disagree with respecting their privacy, I explain to the principal. I’m glad that I called the school first, I tell her. I’d hate for Daniel to again feel excluded from this back to school tradition.

She never thought of it that way, she tells me.

I know.

I could fight. I could argue with her. But I don’t. You pick your battles. This isn’t even an argument I decide.

We need to focus on this.

6th grade life, people!!!

And let us not forget, 1st grade! Hazel Faye is now a 1st grader!!!

“I like your show…can you send me some underwear?”


Overheard under The Big Top:

Daniel- I want to write a letter to Ellen.

Mom- Okay

Daniel- Can I give her a picture of me too; so that she’ll know it’s from me?

Mom- (with a little sarcasm) Do you want to autograph it too?

Daniel- YEAH! AWESOME!

This is what happens when your kid realizes he is like Internet famous. No, not viral or like a celebrity, but he knows he has fans thanks to mom’s blogging and the fact that he is pretty awesome. Does he imagine that Ellen reads Adventures in Juggling? I’m not going to ask.

So he sits down and autographs a picture of himself signing it: To Ellen, Love Daniel xoxo. And then he begins his letter telling her that he likes her…he likes her a lot. He loves her show. She is so so funny. She’s kind too. Oh, and he just loves her underwear….Can I have some of your underwear? he writes. Yes, he wrote that. He also offers that if they were to ever meet he would hug her because he loves her and because he is a pretty great hugger…a lot of people say that about me he adds.

Daniel- Can I ask her to give me a giant $10,000 gift card too?

Um…

We sure could use that like pretty much anyone else I know. Actually the IRS would LOVE it and definitely take it because that’s what they’re doing to us right now but…

Mom- No, son. You shouldn’t ask her for money. I think just telling her how much you like her is enough.

Daniel- I’m still asking her for underwear.

Mom- That’s fine, son.