Stop Lying To Children

When I was a child I believed in faeries.

I flipped through a massive book full of flower faeries, the edges of the pages coated in gold leaf, day after day, wishing that I too could wear a bluebell as a hat and iris petals for a dress. I made shrines in the gardens and hidden the crevices of trees, offering freshly-plucked violets and crusts of bread, hoping that one day, I would see them.

I wish I could still believe in faeries. I sometimes wish I could believe in anything, aside from fear and threats and the ominous vastness of the universe. People who believe in something have something to hold onto. Who cares if it’s blind faith? It’s faith in something good.

When I was a child I was told I could be anything. The “anything” I’ve turned into is an overly complicated, over-thinking, analytical, “negative”, angry person. In essence, I can be anything. But when I was a child, no one told me how much money it would cost, how much time it would take, how difficult it would be. No one ever decides to simply level with children. I was smart enough to understand what my parents meant when they told me, at eight years old, that I would have to pay for college myself. I wasn’t aware of what college actually costs. I wasn’t aware of what saving for retirement means, or taxes, or misery. I still don’t know what a 401K is. I don’t even know how interest works.

I love America. I really do. But even people who love America should realize how behind our country is. I wish America would stop lying to itself. Things aren’t fine. Have they ever been fine? I wish American parents would teach their kids instead of tell their kids. I wish American parents would stop blaming the generation they gave birth to for the country’s faults. I wish American parents, schoolteachers, and adults in general would treat children like capable, intelligent beings.

And they don’t understand why we are so angry.

– Z

A Good Daughter

I have no idea what goes on in my parent’s marriage. This is probably true for most people, so I don’t know why I feel like this somehow adds to my uniqueness or whatever. They’ve been married for 25 years. My mother was my father’s first girlfriend. My mother had been married before. The photo of her from her first marriage has been hanging above the mantle since the day I was born. I don’t know why.

Although I am a person who is excellent at keeping secrets, I can be a snoop once in a while, particularly when it comes to my family. Not too long ago I saw in my dad’s day-to-day journal/medical tracking book that my mother told him she doesn’t love him anymore. I wasn’t really sure what to think. Their dynamic has changed over the years – she’s passive and snooty and often ignores my father, while he allows her to walk on him most of the time.

I remember one night a few years back, and I don’t know how the conversation started, when my mother basically told me not to get married unless I myself was financially secure, since there’s no way out. Message received: she feels trapped in her marriage to my father. I’ve never fully understood her disdain toward him. He’s been the breadwinner since day one. She stopped working completely when my brother was born and didn’t start working again until about five years ago, and it’s only part-time hourly. My father has spent his entire adult life working to the bone for scraps, basically. He’s stepped on by his boss and also by his own wife. From my own limited perspective, he’s under-appreciated.

The fact of the matter is this; my mother cheated on my father. My brother and I found out last summer, while it was ongoing. She lied to us the first time we found proof. We believed her. A week later, I found even more damning evidence and during the second confrontation, I was not hanging back. I was standing up over her. My voice was raised. I threatened her. But in the end, there was nothing I could do. If I went to my father, I sincerely worried he would harm himself, and also, the threat of divorce wasn’t something anyone else could handle. So, my mother received no consequences.

Even though I am a young adult, it’s been difficult to deal with. All I wanted, if nothing else, was my mother to show some remorse. Something to show me that she knew what she did was wrong and hurtful. But I saw none of that. I saw a selfish woman wrapped up in herself too much to even process what she had done, to even consider that it was, in fact, a cruel and heartless thing to do.

A few weeks ago my parents were arguing. I inquired, but my father declined to give me an answer (making me really feel like a child). He ended up sleeping in the make-shift office (which used to be my old bedroom. It’s a little bigger than your average closet). Why should he have to sleep in there? I thought.

I love my parents. I still love my mother, but I have a lot of harsh feelings toward her as well. But I’ve kept my promise so far. I haven’t told my father. After all, I’m a pretty good daughter.

– Z

More Complaints

I’m listening to “Meteorites” by Echo & The Bunnymen, one of my all-time favorite songs and one of my all-time favorite “sad songs” and it prompted me to cry. Not full-blown crying, I just crumpled for a moment and tears burst from my eyes and trickled down in a fairly pathetic fashion. I’ve been feeling lots of things lately. A whole lot of irritability, something that’s just always been there, but something I wish could be toned down. My irritability drives me insane (buh-bum-tssh). Even people I like irritate me quite often. It’s always the littlest things too, and things they do habitually, and I’m sitting next to them clenching my teeth like a maniac.

Three weeks left in the semester. I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. I don’t want to write about it anymore. I’m sure you know how I feel about graduating/leaving people/the status of my applications/the things I need to do/the debt I’m going to be in. Will it be worth it? One can only hope.

Still don’t have a job. I turn 21 next week and don’t have the $65 to renew my license. That’s fine. I also have too much shame to ask to borrow more money.

My feelings toward certain people have shifted. What can you do. It happens.

What I would do for a bottle of vodka in my lap right now…

A Brief Thought on Self-Harm

As someone who struggled with self-harm for six years, I feel hurt/offended/angry
/disappointed when people refer to it as “childish” and “attention-seeking”.
No one I knew who self-harmed (including myself) proudly displayed their wounds. We go out of our way to hide them. I moved from the wrists, a difficult place to consistently cover, to my legs. As I look at the raised white scars on my wrist now, I really can’t determine why I first did it. But I know why I continued. It relieves the immediacy of overwhelming emotion. I’d rather have my body in pain than my mind.
My friends and I joke about it now, but self-harm is never a subject to make light of. I can’t imagine doing it now, though on occasion I do have the urge. I know now that it solves nothing.
Sadly, mental illness often gets over looked when one is an adolescent, though for many illnesses, thats when the first symptoms present themselves.
I remember being 14 and having the school nurse clean and dress fresh cuts on my wrist. I remember walking into the hospital, being forced to take my sweatshirt off, and revealing the weeping, red wounds freshly carved into my skin. It is not glamorous. It is serious and it is sad.
I don’t have an issue with my scars – it is what it is. But they are a constant reminder of some of the darkest times in my life. However, that reminder prompts me to always move forward and strive for progress.
– Z

General Update #2

I’m still taking 375mg of Lithium, as I have been for a few weeks now (I should really write down when exactly I start meds and increase/decrease them…), and though side effects seem to have subsided a bit, I’m still having intestinal issues and nausea. A few days ago I woke up, started watching a movie without making breakfast or eating anything, and after about 20 minutes, I felt like I was going to throw up. I was so sure that I was going to that I rushed to the kitchen and leaned over the sink. I could feel my body preparing itself to vomit and I was salivating heavily and it was painful. But I didn’t end up vomiting.

I’ve been feeling most nauseous at nighttime, as well as when I’m riding passenger in the car with someone (I’m prone to car-sickness generally, but on the Lithium it’s really aggravated to the point where I do sometimes feel like I am going to throw up on their car mats). The nighttime nausea is annoying because it’s every single night. Last night I came home from chatting with a friend, washed my face, brushed my teeth, read a little, got into bed, and just felt sick. I just looked at the bottle of my Lithium and it says to take at bedtime but it also says to take with food. Maybe that will help – I’ve heard from browsing mental health boards online that it can help to take it with food, I just wasn’t specifically instructed to take it that way.

Although I still am very far from a healthy diet, the Lithium has had an effect on my appetite. I still feel hunger – I’m hungry right now. But the desire to eat is much, much less apparent than it normally is for me. However, going these long periods without eating isn’t healthy, and it’s also not healthy when I go long periods and then overeat.

I’ve noticed an increase in energy, which is good. When I was still taking Tegretol, I was terribly exhausted all the time and it was extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning, which is something I normally don’t have much issue with, surprisingly. Waking up and physically getting up has been easier. I’ve had a little more motivation/energy to exercise (also due to weather, I’m sure).

The side effects are quite bothersome, however, I have noticed progress, and that’s keeping me hopeful. I should really make an appointment with my psychiatrist…phone anxiety…

– Z

“Consume”

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For my art history class, I had to write a paper on a piece of protest art. Some of you may have seen/heard about Hal Hefner’s “Consume” series, however, I had no idea what it was all about before I dug further. I thought I’d share my paper with you.

A couple days after receiving this assignment, I came across a photoset on tumblr of these pop art-esque, or maybe “cartoon” is more correct, depictions of advertisements and photographs from the media turned zombie. The first in the series shows two football players, the second portrays a zombie Kim Kardashian in her infamous “Break The Internet” nude pose, the third is Ronald McDonald, arms open, inviting the viewer in, but the skeletal mouth, bulging eyes, and visible muscle tissue stretched across his skull tell me to beware. The word “CONSUME” is plastered in bold letters across the top of each of the previous images. The piece I chose is the fourth in the series, created by Hal Hefner in 2015, who is an artist and the founder of Catmonkey Studio, is an eerie take on the iconic photograph of Steve Jobs that all of us in the United States have seen at some point.

Steve Jobs is also turned into a zombie; his eyes are dead, the pupils look like mutilated stars splattered in the center of what would normally be his irises, the flesh from his hand and face is missing, revealing tree branch-like veins and a sterile, lipless mouth. Below the familiar Apple logo in the upper right-hand corner are the words “Don’t Think / Consume”. The message in this image is pretty clear – we are constantly being told what to do, what to wear, what to buy, and what to (or not to) think. This work is poking at the mindless consumerism of our current society. There is no subtlety in any of Hefner’s images in his Consume Series; he shoves the message right into the viewers face without apology.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Apple myself, which is what prompted me to choose this piece of artwork. I do, in fact, own an iPod and have owned iPhones in the past, but overall I think of Apple as a greedy company which just shells out new and unnecessary products on a rapid basis. Despite the huge amount of legal and moral controversy surrounding Apple Inc. (there is an entire Wikipedia page on it), so many people buy into their hype. We have all met someone who just had to have the new iPhone or the new iPad or the new MacBook, despite already owning an earlier version. I believe this is what Hefner is portraying – the mindless consumerism, perpetuated by a multinational company with a net profit of 18 billion dollars in January 2015 alone (“Apple Press Info”, 2015). With the upcoming release of the new Apple Watch, costing from $349 to an astounding $17,000, I felt even more annoyed (Swider, 2015). Is an Apple Watch really a necessary product for anyone? Isn’t there already an app for that (actually, there is an app you can download to see the new Apple Watch models in their true size!)? I love Hefner’s portrayal of Steve Jobs as a zombie himself – mindless and dead inside, like the consumers his company needs to survive.

As a self-proclaimed consumer, I truly find this image striking artistically but even more so as a very, very loud message. The purpose of Hefner’s image is to provoke thought; the opposite of what the image actually tells us to do. There is no way to completely protest consumerism as a whole, unless one is willing to hightail it to the forest and live off of possibly-poisonous berries (how will we know they’re poisonous unless we Google it with our Smartphones?), so I think what Hefner is trying to say is to simply think before acting, something many of us learned to do in elementary school. Society is spoon-fed propaganda and products by the media no matter where we go – it’s unavoidable. I don’t think Hefner is making a jab directly at the late Steve Jobs or Apple Inc., I think he is telling his viewer that being aware of what we are consuming and why should be at the forefront of their minds.

Sources:

Apple – Press Info – Apple Reports Record First Quarter Results. (2015, January 1). Retrieved

April 21, 2015, from http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2015/01/27Apple-Reports-Record-First-Quarter-Results.html

HAL HEFNER DOT COM. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://halhefner.com/

Hefner, H. (2015, February 1). Consume. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from

http://www.consumepopculture.com/

Swider, M. (2015, April 21). Apple Watch release date, price and features. Retrieved April 21,

2015, from

http://www.techradar.com/us/news/wearables/apple-iwatch-release-date-news-and-rumours-1131043

Dream Awake

It’s nearly 1am and I made the grave mistake of Googling “reptilian aliens” but I didn’t really find any new information, so I went on the Wikipedia page for dreams. Then I went onto the page for Descartes’ “dream argument” (throwback to my first year of college!) and had a brief existential crisis; if all of this is just a dream, why am I even trying? Does anything matter? What’s the point? After I got over the reality (ha, oh, how Descartes would laugh…) that what I do DOES matter, I went back to reading about dreams. I’ve had an interest in dreams for many years now. I’ve always loved hearing about other people’s dreams and I am ecstatic when I can recall my own. Unfortunately, like everything else in life, the unpleasant seems to stick around more so than the pleasant.

When I was in eighth grade I had this period which consisted of mostly nightmares. There were dreams in between, I’m sure, but there was this long period of just awful nightmares. Some of it was probably meaningless, I mean, I once dreamed that a bunch of the Scream ghosts were trying to kill me, but I had these very disturbing dreams that I attempted to interpret years later. I had multiple dreams in which I saw decapitated or dismembered corpses. One that I have remembered as if I dreamed it last night began with myself in farm house. It was ordinary on the inside, but for some reason, I stepped outside and the unpleasantness began. I looked into the large field and saw two stony, frozen statues. As I stared at them, I saw them move slightly. This frightened dream-me and I began to walk around the side of the house. On the porch there was a rocking chair and in the chair was a headless, rotting corpse of a man.

I’ve had a few of these dreams since the eighth grade, but not so often. I had those nightmares around the time my mental health began to deteriorate. I was losing my mind, or, I guess, losing my head.

Interestingly enough, last summer I had another bout of nightmares. This was when I was actually quite mentally well (for me, anyway) and taking Tegretol. It passed, but I’m still curious about what caused that plague of nightmares.

Since I was a very young child, I had the occasional unpleasant but not nightmare-level dream involving me having to climb up a wall or construct of some sort and into very high, tiny spaces. The first one I ever remember involved my father, my brother, and me. Something or someone was chasing us in this pastel room and we had to make our way through these high, tiny shelves. I was watching a TV show the other night and a character stepped onto a chair, pretending to climb upstairs, and it made me uneasy. None of this makes sense, I know, but for years I’ve been dying to make sense of it.

Recently I haven’t been able to recall dreams as well, which bums me out. Every time I look up dream “symbols” I think, That’s baloney, but I do enjoy interpreting my dreams as I see fit. I have The Interpretation of Dreams by Freud (I actually think Freud was mostly full of mumbo-jumbo) and I should probably read all of it, but man, it’s massive. The mind is truly a fascinating thing, and I would love to dig deep into the brain and learn all there is to learn about dreams.

All of this started with me searching the internet for reptilians. I need to go to bed.