It seems to me that my posts often start out with, “I have to admit.” Not “Once upon a time,” or “It was a dark and stormy night” for me, oh no. Not even “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins,” (Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita) nor “It is a truth universally acknowledged” (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice). No, for me it’s, “I have to admit…,” and I have to admit I’m trying to determine what this says about me.
I’ve also been thinking about headlines and their power to draw us in to stories we might not otherwise read. It actually makes me feel a little insecure to use a really powerful headline. A little manipulative too. Seriously, don’t you ever feel taken advantage of even the teensiest bit when you take the time to click on a great headline or title and the subsequent article is as dry as a legal brief on water rights in the Sahara? For example, I’ll admit I’ve never made a fortune with a fool idea (there I go again). And now are you just a little bit pissed that you clicked because you’ve got a ton of fool ideas and were hoping I’d teach you how to make a fortune with them?
I was really disappointed in the title of yesterday’s post. It started off with a bang and ended up in a death rattle. So I thought to set out looking on the information highway (does anyone even call it that anymore?) to figure out how to put more oomph into my titles (there’s probably an eHow entry for that, right Stephanie? (http://listfulthinking.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/ehow/). The first webpage I looked at was a little disappointing. It was actually a list of some seriously comedy- and pizazz- challenged individual’s top 100 headlines. It included gems like, “Six Types of Investors – Which Group are You in?” and “How Much is Worker Tension Costing your Company?” Right? I have yet to come up with an improved title for that post, and the consequent book that I hope arises from it, but, hey, I have time.
When trying to write yesterday’s title, I just couldn’t come up with anything funny. I wrote, “You’ve heard of FU Penguin? Coming Soon–FU Illness.” You see I wasn’t exaggerating about the death rattle. I couldn’t come up with something humorous that said “mental illness.” Those of us who have been around the block a time or two with mental illness can usually find a bit of find humor to keep us going. There are jokes about mental illness, but they often make others uncomfortable. It’s sort of like making a joke about one’s own race. I can make a joke about being white, but if you’re not, can you? Generally not, if you value your life. And honestly, there was a time in my life when jokes about depression would have been, well, depressing. These days I can laugh a little more. Take this joke, for example, it cracks me up, “How does a crazy person get through a forest? He takes the psychopath.” Try this one on for style (thanks Trey*), “If a person with multiple personalities tries to commit suicide, is it considered a hostage situation?” Or alternately, “If a person with multiple personalities commits suicide, is she considered a serial killer?” Did you laugh? If so, did you look around to see if anyone was looking? Sometimes laughing at these jokes is akin to watching someone slip on the ice, comical until you consider what you’re really laughing about. For this moment, though, I give you permission to laugh without guilt. Especially at this classic:
Hello, and welcome to the mental health hotline.
If you have obsessive compulsive disorder, press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.
If you have multiple personality syndrome, press 3, 4, 5, and 6.
If you suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.
If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mothership.
If you are hearing voices, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are manic-depressive, it doesn’t matter which button you press. No one will answer anyway.
If you are dyslexic, press 96969696969696.
If you have a nervous disorder, please fidget with the pound button until a representative comes on the line.
If you have amnesia, press 8 and state your name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security number, and your mother’s and grandmother’s maiden names.
If you have post traumatic stress disorder, slowly and carefully press 911.
If you have bi-polar disorder, please leave a message after the beep. Or before the beep. Or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
If you have short-term memory loss, please try your call again in a few minutes.
If you have low self-esteem, please hang up. All our representatives are busy helping others.
There are a whole lot of people around the world laughing about mental illness these days, and that is because it’s therapeutic for them. I would love to have seen the comedy show Warning: May Contain Nuts in England this past fall. The performers were users of mental health services in Berkshire and Sussex, and it turns out madness can be good material. I don’t think my own madness has ever been particularly amusing, but I’m reminded of a friend whose mother, poor thing and bless her soul, would put tin foil on her glasses, ears, and on the top of her head in order to better tune in to the voices. Yes, that’s a little uncomfortable, and it makes me want to weep and at the same time laugh. My illness is nothing to laugh about. But if I don’t find ways to laugh, it wins. I want to share with you my best laugh of the day. I admit (ha ha!) that I totally ripped off the pictures from another site. But the rest is pure me.
Introducing, all the way from Parapluesch in Germany, plush animals with mental disorders. Let’s give these guys a big round of applause!
This adorable blue guy is Lilo Hippo. He has OCD. He can’t stop putting his puzzle together, over and over again. He’s blue, he’s got an IQ of 152, and he’s funny too (when he’s not absorbed in repetitive behavior).
Our next act is Dub, the depressed turtle. He’s isolating right now, but when someone suggests a change of scenery, he does poke his head out of his shell. The good thing about treatment resistant depression is that you qualify for all of the clinical trials.
Making his club debut, here’s Sly, the hallucinating snake. When he looks at his rattle, he actually sees (and hears) Ra the Sun God rapping Walking on Sunshine. The funny thing about it is, he is manifesting that substitute rattle. And either he’s dressed in a rainbow-colored body sock, or he’s also rocking and channeling that body dysmorphic disorder.
Last, but certainly not least, may I present Kroko, the paranoid croc? Just because Kroko is too afraid to come out from behind his pillow because he fears everyone is out to get him, doesn’t mean they aren’t.
That completes our round up for tonight. Thank you, thank you very much. You’ve been a really great audience tonight. Please be sure you come back for my next show when I discuss road kill toys. But before I go, there are a whole lotta people I need to thank.
1.) The Gay Bump for the great foil-hat cat (http://www.thegaybump.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/tin_foil.jpg).
2.) Brian Logan of The Guardian for the great article on Warning: May Contain Nuts (http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2010/oct/06/comedy-mental-health-may-contain-nuts).
3.) Toxel.com for the totally cool and inspired post on these cute, fuzzy, mental health-impaired plushies (http://www.toxel.com/inspiration/2010/09/10/stuffed-animals-with-mental-disorders/).
4.) (http://www.mentaljokes.com/) for the path through the forest joke .
5.) http://www.jokesplace.com/joke/mentalhealth.html for the mental health hotline joke.
6.) Trey, for the alternate and totally rocking serial killer ending.
Just in case you wondered? I know that multiple personality disorder is now called dissociative identity disorder. And in case you want to say that I’m being disrespectful? Think again. As P. says, I win in the “how many mental health conditions do you have?” lotto. And last but not least, thank you, thank you, thank you to all you fighters out there who get up every morning (or afternoon or evening) and do the best you can despite the fact that you have a 400 pound gorilla going ape shit in your head. You are my heroes.
1.) My children, who bless their poor little hearts, inherited half of my gene pool.
2.) My dogs, because they know to go outside when I’m ranting and raving, and still come back and give me love.
3.) Trey, because he loves me anyway. ❤
4.) Dr. M., Dr. R., Dr. K., and Dr. B., for being in my corner and giving me the best medical care possible.
5.) P., for sharing muffins and musings yesterday.
“Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded.” ~ Anita Roddick
“I urge you to be as impudent as you dare. BE BOLD, BE BOLD, BE BOLD.” ~ Susan Sontag
“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.” ~ Booker T. Washington