Archive for the 'mental health' Category



How do we convince people who do not derive power from it or lose out as a result of it that the White Male Privilege does exist and that it would be almost universally beneficial to eliminate it?


What Zuckerberg Did

I saw an article this week on Facebook Depression – basically the idea that people who don’t have many friends on Facebook or whose friends don’t interact much with them can become depressed and suicidal. I suppose if you’re socially awkward or withdrawn normally, your Facebook life would reflect your normal life. Everything we do is a reflection of us anyway. The article makes a valid point, but omits one glaring and serious fact – our experience is what we make it.

Facebook may be depressing for some, but for others, it is amazing. For others it is a way to connect with friends all over the world that they might not have been able to afford to call or wouldn’t have felt comfortable writing. Facebook has made it possible for people to look up relatives they knew existed but had no idea how to contact. It has made that initial reach out to someone you wish you still knew just a little bit less scary and therefore; infinitely more possible.  It has renewed relationships and friendships that people thought we lost and provides hope that we may get so see someone again, someday… if they’re on Facebook.

Sure, we may get annoyed when we see a lot of negative statuses, but Facebook forces us to accept that some people are complainers.  If we cannot accept it, Facebook gives us the option to walk away, unseen, unnoticed, until we choose otherwise.  It gives us an opportunity to support each other that we didn’t have in the past, not because we didn’t care, but because we didn’t know.  We’ve learned that we can empathize with people we haven’t seen in years and simply because we were once on the same team or went to the same school.  Those people, even if they exist in your life only when you want them to, by extension, enrich or diminish that part of your life only if you let them.

I can’t ignore that a lot of my friends are struggling, but I know for sure that Facebook is not the cause of their struggle.  Their struggles are with their health, their relationships, their jobs or lack of them, and the frustrations of every day.   Facebook allows us all to garner the support we need to wage daily war against the harshness and cruelty of life, even if it’s just in the knowledge that someone else is going through that too, and there is someone out there who does, indeed, know where we are coming from.  Their status proves it.

Does Facebook cause depression?  Maybe for some people it does, but it also weakens it.  Facebook virtually fills the holes where depression would entrench itself until people we are connected with in the real world can take over.  Our experience with Facebook is about how we choose to use it.  Zuckerberg gave us a power we didn’t have – to positively or negatively affect people’s lives without being in the same room.  How we use it is up to us.


Expecting a Miracle

It scares me that many people in the United States believe that God can save their loved ones when doctors cannot.  Though we don’t know everything about out bodies and minds, and I do believe that there is something to the Chinese method of directing energy, I find it difficult to wrap my head around those who rely completely on the mythological.  To me, it’s tantamount to expecting to be cured by a fairy.  My sister’s chronic illness had opened me up to the possibility that prayer helps, but not because God had anything to do with it.  Directed energy, along with the patient knowing that many people care for them and are hoping for their recovery, can do wonders for the psyche (which in turn affects the body). But just because a recovery or remission is unexplained does not make it a miracle.  It just means we don’t know how it happened.  My concern is that believing so completely that God will heal someone can be psychologically devastating when they do not improve, but then, the religious will just explain that away as God’s will.  What the people of the United States need is to rely less on God and be more in touch with reality.


I Could Have Been A Soldier’s Wife…

I had two men propose to me in a very short period of time.  One, the soldier, I dated for over two years, spent time with his family, did the holiday shuffle, and tested our relationship with two road trips.  He is a great guy, incredibly intelligent, and never home.  Such is a soldier’s life.  I would have spent a lot of time on my own, raising my children practically on my own, putting in time at the Officer’s Club and the Ladies Auxiliary to prove I was worthy of my absent husband.  Only when I took a step back from that relationship did I realize that that would never have made me happy.  I loved him, but I would have lived a mostly solitary existance far away from my friends and family, and for someone who is clinically depressed, that is not a good idea.  The soldier now thinks I’m weak, slightly crazy, and a liar (since I said I would love hom forever and he thinks that ending a relationship means ending love as well).  That is the black-and-white thinking I could have been subjected to for the rest of my life.

The second, a musician, seems in many ways to be an antithesis of the first.  I met him a month after breaking up with the soldier, moved in three months later, and was engaged nine months after that.  It sounds like a rebound relationship, I know, but it’s lasted 7 years, so I think we’re okay.  I didn’t meet his family until after we were engaged.  He’s less than perfect, intelligent, incredibly funny, and always home.   I can always call him when I need something, he has an amazing relationship with our son, and most of our friends don’t give a damn about whether I wear appropriate clothing and jewelry for each occasion.  It was my relationship with the soldier that made me see what is truly important in my life.  The relationship I have with my family, the ability to do the work I love without being uprooted every few years, and a true partnership in child rearing is as close to happiness as clinical depression can get.  When I’m frustrated or tired, angry or sad, I remind myself of one simple and life altering decision – I could have been a soldier’s wife.


Legalizing It?

Representative Barney Frank introduced legislation to decriminalize penalties for carrying up to 100 grams of marijuana.  I have no doubt that it will be buried in committee like most of Barney Frank’s legislation.  Of course, the White House and the DEA are against it, mostly because they’ve been spending years falsifying the research about medical marijuana and they can’t make themselves look bad now.  The argument is that marijuana is not a harmful drug, certainly no more so than alcohol or tobacco, the benefits for those in pain or suffering from a variety of mental illnesses are great, and our prisons are seriously overcrowded with nonviolent offenders.

My stance is this: A lot of my students are convinced felons who shouldn’t be because they were carrying or smoking marijuana, which isn’t the case in the suburbs where just as much, if not more, is carried and smoked by young adults.  My kids are guilty of smoking while black, as is the case with many people in jail for marijuana related “crimes”.  Also, medical marijuana has a variety of uses for illnesses such as fibromialgia, depression, anxiety, glaucoma, the side effects related to cancer treatment, etc…  It is inhumane to force people to suffer when an aide is readily available just because the drug companies and the government can’t figure out a way to make a huge profit on it.


I’ve Been Slacking

I used to be a workaholic, but then I had a baby.  I am desperately trying to juggle all of the separate factions of my life. I’m working harder than I ever have before, and I still feel like the biggest slacker in the universe.  It’s a “too many irons in the fire” syndrome.  I’m doing a lot of things, but I don’t feel like I’m doing any of them particularly well (the best I can, of course, but never quite good enough).

I only get to see my son for an average of 3 hours a day.  I leave for work before he wakes up. I don’t get to pick him up until 4:30, and he goes to bed at 8.  I make the most of the time I have with him, but I never feel like it’s enough.  I feel like I’m missing out on major things.  I didn’t know he could do the hand motions to “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” until I saw him do it by chance a few days ago.  I reinforce what he does at day care,but someone else is teaching him.  I rationalize by reminding myself there are millions of children in daycare all over the world, that we have chose carefully, that my husband works in the same building, and that he is a bright, independent little boy who seems to be thriving (as far as I can tell) in that environment.  I still feel guilty.

I don’t put the prep work into my lessons that I used to.  I love my job and I truly believe that my students deserve the best education I can offer them, which requires a lot of preparation.  I have to consider various intelligence levels, learning styles, interests, and language abilities.  I have to grade one quiz and one test a week for 120 students (and I teach Literature, so it’s not like they’re multiple choice), call the parents of those who are failing, meet with those who have behavioral issues, and do whatever my principal asks (which included planning the prom, explaining PSSA and SAT questions, and creating and grading the Senior Projects).  An hour and a half a day is simply not enough time.  I used to work from home, but by the time the baby’s in bed and the house has been tidied, I’m exhausted and can’t quite come up with a new and exciting project about Chaucer.  I “stole” one from the Internet and adapted it to my students to the best of my ability to my students and felt incredibly guilty.

I juggle playing with the baby and tiding the house until my husband gets home , but I never feel like I get enough done.  I can fold some laundry, do some dishes, vacuum the livingroom, or make dinner, but I can’t do them all in an hour or two and watch the baby.  I use Sesame Street more than I should.  Domestication is not my strong suit, and my working hours have added to the struggle.  A little boy adds to the mess and the distraction (and the exhaustion) .  I do what I can and feel guilty about not getting to the rest.

I write when I need an outlet.  Unfortunately, I’ve only found the time once a week or so since school started, but I plan on taking a little more time for myself during the summer.  I’ve been a little self-centered.  I haven’t given enough attention to the war in Iraq, gas prices, and the war.  I’ve stuck to what’s easy – opinions on religion, philosophy, and science.  I feel like I’ve gotten rusty and complacent.  I’ve been slacking.  I should sleep less, drink more coffee, and write more (after my son is in bed, the housework is done, I’ve finished my lesson planning for the year, and I’ve had an actual conversation with my husband).


Science and Jesus

If you believe in the evolution of religion and that each new religion that is created relies on those before it for their fundamental truths, then it might be easier to accept that as the human mind expands its capabilities, new and viable religions will form to accommodate the most intelligent among us.  If you can’t fathom that, then maybe this – as we learn more and more about our brains, some of the basic principles of major religions come into focus more clearly.  The call to love unconditionally and forgive unconditionally particularly fits this mold.

As advances in psychology continue, we frequently learn that the things we find unforgivable in others may not be the end result of free will as much as they are a product of the warped chemistry within our own minds.  When we take a moment to recognize that we cannot truly know what lies inside a person’s head, we give ourselves the opportunity to stop judging for a moment and forgive the faults, large and small, that we may find personally unforgivable.  Depression, obsession, defiance, and deceit all could be the result of bad brain chemistry, and while we should not forget what people do to us lest we be burned a second time, we should at least try to forgive their transgressions, whether they ask for forgiveness or not.  Unconditional love IS unconditional, after all.

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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