Category Archives: rant

Suicide is NOT selfish…

I’ve spent the last two days trying to figure out how to say just this. Suicide isn’t about being selfish, or thinking only of yourself. It’s about a depth of pain and despair that most people will (blessedly) never experience. Having been there and come out the other side, I know how it feels. People who commit suicide are, in my opinion, some of the most unselfish people in the world. You can’t possibly know how hard living can be until you’ve faced down that choice.

Deciding to NOT kill yourself is probably one of the most incredibly painful things a person can do in that situation. Let’s talk about selfish. Selfish is smoking when you know that it can make your child, who is forced to sit in the car with you, very ill. Selfish is drinking and then deciding that it’s OK to drive the two blocks to get home. Selfish is eating your Subway 12″ sandwich while staring into the eyes of a homeless person who hasn’t eaten in a couple of days. Selfish people have more money than they could ever spend, and still feel that people on food stamps are “gaming the system.” Selfish is whatever one person does, knowing that someone else is suffering due to that action or for the lack of whatever the benefit is. I’m pretty sure that dying isn’t depriving anyone else of death. Putting an end to pain that you suffer silently is not selfish. Selfish is what the people who know you’re in pain are, when they turn away. Every time you judge someone with an illness – whether it’s mental or physical – you’re the selfish one. People suffer from depression and other mental illnesses suffer in silence and in secret because society as a whole won’t tolerate less than that. Society says “I don’t care how much it hurts. I don’t want to have to see that.” No one cares how hard it is to talk to other people, or get out of bed. Who really gives a crap about how much effort it takes to get to work in the morning, as long as the rent and water bill gets paid? One of the most often asked questions is “What do you have to be depressed about?”

Mental illness requires justification. When it comes to physical illness, there’s no question of justification. No one asks a cancer patient if they really need chemo. The need for Prozac, and Xanax, and Valium is routinely questioned. Visits to a rheumatologist for Lupus are not used during your work review to determine your value to the company. Visits to a therapist or psychiatrist often are. The need to take time off for surgery is understood without question. The need to take time off for depression is looked upon as a personal failing. A person with advanced cancer can choose to discontinue treatment in exchange for a higher quality of life in the final months. A person suffering from mental illness is expected to life a life made infinitely worse by medication, no matter what. There are innumerable research projects searching for better, less debilitating treatments for chronic physical illness. Every effort is made to address medication side effects such as sexual dysfunction, weight gain, mental fog, and dozens of others for people with atrial fibrillation, or high cholesterol, or cancer. Very few studies are going on to address the same side effects of psychiatric drugs, leaving the patients to live lives that would be considered intolerable to someone with a physical illness. Suicide is not the way out of depressions, except in a visceral way. Ending your life doesn’t solve the problem in any way that is meaningful to society. Suicide ends the problem for the one person most intimately involved. It does get everyone else off the hook. The ones left behind can blame the victim by calling him selfish, saying she was weak, and declaring that he gave up. A woman who dies of breast cancer is never decried at her funeral as having given up, though. Where are the people who acknowledge how very brave a suicide is for having struggled for so long through so much pain? Where is the compassion that could have saved that person? person who kills herself declares open season on character assassination. It’s perfectly OK to comment at the funeral on the lack of personal integrity he showed in taking his own life.

I wish there was a way to show you how incredibly difficult depression and mental illness is. There should be some way to put into words just how much strength and fortitude it takes to get out of bed in the morning when your body feels like it weighs tons and has been chained down. How it feels to feel nothing. What it is like to pretend to have feelings of any sort. There are no words to express how much you want to be with people, but how hard it is to listen to them. I watched this video yesterday, and it came close.

Maybe you’ll understand.

 

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than most have…

I’ve been procrastinating on the writing lately, and one of the ways I occupy myself instead of writing is StumbleUpon.  It’s quite the efficient time waster, but sometimes I come across interesting things that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.  It could be crafty stuff, or computer stuff, or social consciousness raising stuff.  Today, it was women’s issues stuff.

I have an exchange student this year.  It’s the first time I’ve done this, so it’s a new experience for all of us.  He’s from Yemen, from what he calls a “modern city.”  By this, I believe he means that it’s not as rigid as a more traditional Muslim city.  There are women teaching in the

schools, and many of the things that are very repressive (in our western ways of thinking) are less so in Aden.  We’ve had a couple of opportunities to talk about women and men and how society differentiates between the genders.  There have been discussions on equal wages (or not), voting (or not), driving (or not), and any other number of activities and issues that we American women tend to take for granted. Then, while meandering about the Internet, I came across an article about women on Divine Caroline. Entitled “Nine Things American Women Take For Granted,” the article very briefly examines nine freedoms that American women enjoy today and should “take advantage of.”  It was when I read that phrase that I stopped stumbling and started writing.

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I believe that most American women have forgotten just how recently it was when we didn’t have these freedoms.  The right to own property (The Married Women’s Property Act 1882) and vote (June 14, 1919), saying no to marital sex was not permissible before 1976 – a year before I graduated from high school. Reproductive rights are still not a reality for many women both in the US and around the world.

I have spoken to my daughters about women’s rights and while they agree on principle, but don’t want to accept the label of Feminist.  They tell me it’s not relevant any more.  Feminism is unnecessary in their view.  As their father and I have instilled in them, they know they can do whatever they want.  They believe that they have nothing in common with the bra burning, in-your-face activists of the ‘60s.  They’re not interested in being identified with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.  To them, Susan B. Anthony was just another outspoken woman who wanted to vote.  I look at my granddaughter and I wonder what her life will be.  Right now, at 9, she’s all about Barbie and jewelry and makeup.  Don’t underestimate her, thought.  She’s not afraid to throw a punch and “Don’t get mad, get even” should be her motto.  Like her mother, she’s nitroglycerine in a demure, delicate looking package.

On August 5, 2011, The Guardian (UK newspaper) published an article asking if feminism was dead..  “Feminism, the pessimists say, is over, drowned in a froth of pink tulle and buried with a stiletto heel through its heart.”  There are only a few of us around who remember the time “before.”  The time in the 70’s when being a divorced, working mother meant that you were also a slut and your daughter probably was as well.  The time early in that decade when a girl in an all-boy aeronautics class was such a complete oddity that the teacher wasn’t sure how to grade her work.  Employment ads specified “girl for typing,” and “stock boy” – implying that a typing boy or a strong girl were somehow not right.  My sister and I were routinely sent to clean our brothers’ rooms, while the boys never did any “women’s” work.  Somehow, though, cleaning the garage was a gray area and we all pitched in to do that.

Feminism is not dead.  It’s merely repackaged itself for today’s politically correct world.  While many women hesitate to accept the label “feminist,” they are quick to address discrimination and inequity when necessary.  Until the recent publicity surrounding Rush Limbaugh’s vicious attack on women, most activism was focused on human rights, inclusive of women.  I think that does an injustice to women and to human rights.  There are many instances of human rights violations that are not specifically female issues, but some issues lose their sense of urgency when focused on the human, and not specifically on the feminine.  Things like reproductive rights and pay equity are not generally an issue for men.  Women, however, struggle with this around the world.  Women still don’t make an equal wage for equal work, even here in the US.  In no country on this planet are men barred from voting.  Women, while most are legally allowed to vote, often have circumstances forced upon them that make voting impossible such as the inability of women in many Muslim countries to drive, or even go outside without a male relative.

 

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While my daughters hesitate to self-identify as feminists, each is – in her own way.  One daughter, although married with two children, is still the primary support of her family.  There is virtually no gender delineation in her house with regard to household chores.  She is raising her daughter to never question being able to become whatever she wants to be.  She would find it amusing if someone suggested that she check with her husband before going out with friends, just as she would not expect him to ask her in the same situation.  They coordinate scheduling, but never permission.  Parenting is a joint venture, as is housekeeping and earning a living. The other daughter is happily self-sufficient, and requires any guy who wants to be with her to accept her as she is – a strong and capable young woman.

My sons have been raised without gender lines, as well.  Having had a father who was an at-home dad for 12 years, they all know that being a man sometimes requires you to change diapers, make dinner, and mow the lawn.  Being a man doesn’t mean being in charge – it means being part of a democratic endeavor called family.

I am a feminist.  My husband likewise considers himself a feminist.  My daughters and sons, whether they identify as such or not, are feminists.  All that means – today as it did in the 60’s – is that we believe women are not less than or greater than men.  They’re equal, and are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities.  Feminism is most definitely not dead.

Time Flies

It’s been a month (again!) since my last post.  I’d like to say that I was so busy with NaNoWriMo that I just couldn’t find time for anything else, but that would be somewhat less than truthful.  The real reason was I was so busy I completely forgot to blog.  Between a couple of projects at work and the furious knitting pace demanded by the upcoming holidays, I work, knit and sleep – not always in that order.

Some interesting things have happened in the world since last month, though.  First, scientists (actually one scientist) have discovered that it may be possible to have life based on things other than the known elements.  There’s a bacterium that can live on arsenic.  I’ve been pretty sure for a long time that by holding on the the belief that there can only be life as we understand it is rather…well I can’t think of a good adjective right now.  Turns out I was right.  I’m no scientist, but it has always seemed plausible to me that there could be things out there that we have no comprehension of.  It’s kind of exciting!

Bullying has been big news this past month.  What parent hasn’t agonized over the (perceived) need to send her child to school and have said child beg endlessly to stay home due to a bully at school?  A recent article at ABCNews.com, that I can’t find at the moment, chronicles a woman’s war with her school district to be able to send her kids to another school due to the extreme bullying.  It wasn’t until the media got involved that the school administration gave in and were suddenly very cooperative.  For more on this topic, check out School Bytes tomorrow for a much longer rant on public education.

Also in the news was Wikileaks.  Good luck with the link, it’s a popular DDOS site for the last several days.  If you do manage to get in, there’s a wealth of information that is damning and embarrassing to almost every government on Earth.  I can’t say I was surprised by any of it, let alone shocked as some people are claiming to be.  One would have to be pretty naive to think this sort of mayhem doesn’t happen.  Makes me want to go around calling people “Pollyanna.”  Time to wake up, people.  Big Business and the governments of virtually every country couldn’t care less about “doing the right thing” or keeping the world safe for our children or even getting decent drinking water to the masses.  It’s all about power and money.  Wikileaks has pretty much rubbed everyone’s faces in that fact.

Politically, the GOP is right on track to keep their fave demographic (rich people) happy and wealthy.  Bush tax cuts are on the block, and while the House appears to be letting humanity and compassion lead the way, the Senate is fully prepared to strike down those infidels who have a problem with the rich getting richer.  Take that, you do-gooders!  They can take heart if they lose, however.  Sarah Palin is going back to Ohio – NOT to campaign she says.  Sarah…really?  And just when we thought the Palin family would recede into the background again she makes a “book tour” to Ohio and her husband, Todd, is considering a run on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Well, that’s enough ranting for one day.  I need to save some for School Bytes!  Knitting pictures to come and a list of my projects – in case anyone is interested.

English – The Dying Language

I admit it – I’m an English snob.

People can’t spell, or punctuate, or use proper grammar any more.  I’m not just talking about in quick email messages or slap dash posts on Facebook, either.  I’m talking about business correspondence, thank you notes, school assignments, and just about any other form of written communication.  I am including not just people who barely made it through high school, but people with college degrees.  I would be completely ashamed if I sent a business communication in which I mis-used to and too.  I would be mortified to substitute there for they’re or their.  I see it every day from people who are in positions of responsibility and – I’m assuming – are role models for students and others.

I cringe when I drive by a huge sign advertising a business with misspelled words.  I see advertising copy that’s been approved for distribution with poor grammar and bad spelling.  I get emails that fore go punctuation altogether.

There’s a time and place for informal communication, and there’s a venue for abbreviation and emoticons.  There are also situations that should be treated with consideration and thought before dashing off a poorly worded and sometimes shockingly badly constructed statement.

Educate yourselves.  You paid a lot of money for that education, shouldn’t you use it?