In This Climate


“I don’t take issue with these things on the basis of political correctness. It’s not about that. This is an issue because mental illness is real and the stakes are real and they are nothing if not high.” Matthew Martin-Ellis from his article “Suicide Squad and Mental Illness: Why This Film Scares Me” on The Mighty

As I continue to address children’s mental patient costumes out of the spotlight, I am finding it to be more challenging in this political climate.  I’ve previously mentioned that, if my concerns make their way into social media, the term “P.C” is often directed toward me and it us usually followed by crude language/labels.

It’s never been about political correctness.  It’s about creating a climate where young people are encouraged to ask for help at the onset of a challenging brain illness…it’s about saving the lives of our children, adolescents and young adults.

And then I read the following article (sorry, my link button isn’t working for me) at:

The statement from this article, posted above, said it all.

I continue to work behind the scenes, trying to find a way to stay out of the muck and mire of social media comments, and will give updates in September and October.



The Day I Spoke Up


sbOur younger daughter played club and high school soccer before her illness presented.  It was, overall, a terrific experience.  I have a lot of fond memories of the girls, their families and the coaches.

But I do recall a very challenging experience that took place during her last season of club soccer.

One of the fathers (a fairly successful local businessman) had a habit of yelling offensive comments at the girls (as well as the male and female teenage referees) from the sideline.  A small group of especially competitive fathers, who usually huddled around him at games, never said a word to him…they didn’t participate in the name calling/rude comments…but they remained by his side.

I addressed the issue with the club and the coaches.  It was never fully resolved.

One afternoon, after he berated a teenage male referee, nearly bringing him to tears, then called one of the girls a “fat cow”, I calmly addressed him.  I explained, “It’s hard enough to go through adolescence without being publicly berated by a full grown man.”

He told me, “The ref gets paid to deal with it and the girl is on the other team.” (The girl was on our team…as if it matters.)

I told him teenage referees are not paid a pittance to deal with crippling verbal abuse and no young woman should be subjected to his cruel remarks.  I reminded him that we, as adults, are mentors and young people pay attention to our words and our actions.

The men who stood beside him didn’t say a word.

When I sat down I appeared calm but I was doing my best to stay composed…my heart was racing and I was literally struggling to breathe and hoped I wouldn’t cry out of anger or frustration…but I remained composed.

The thirteen-year-old sister of the girl looked my way and said, “Thank you.”

Then her mother looked my way, smiled, nodded and mouthed the words, “Thank you.”

He continued to grumble with the other fathers about me but stopped yelling from the sidelines for the remainder of the game.

He was the first to leave with his daughter after the game ended.  Slowly and apprehensively the fathers who stood beside him approached me and apologized for not speaking up.  One said, “Yeah, I was going to say something.”  But he didn’t…even when his friend grumbled offensive comments about me.

He continued to stand with the same men…but he was less verbally abusive from the sidelines for the remainder of the season.

My place in the group shifted after that.  The grandparents and a few parents included me.  The thirteen year old sister always waved and smiled at me.

But I had upset the social order outside of soccer…I was now on the periphery…and there I would stay.

Advocacy and responsible caregiving can also land me on the periphery at times.

But that’s ok.

I’ve met remarkably impressive and authentic people and have witnessed amazing grace on the periphery.

And there’s a great view from the edge…a view of infinite possibility.



Turning Frustration into Inspiration

I was talking with a dear friend about how I use art journaling to deal with all sorts of emotions while caregiving and advocating. I thought I would share the process with photographs.

I begin with expressive writing.  I often destroy what I write if I am working through a lot of emotions.  I don’t want anyone to come across any writing that could be misconstrued or potentially hurt feelings.  I just need to deal with my emotions and expressive writing is very effective in the moment.

I also write expressively in my art journal, then cover the writing with gesso, and try to work through the emotions with paint and collage.

Below are the steps I took after writing my thoughts about a recent interaction (after covering the writing with paint).

I get very frustrated when I attempt to establish a healthy boundary with someone and the response is a dismissive eye roll and the words “lighten up”.  Let’s just say I wrote about that frustration.

As I take the time to work through those feelings with paint and collage, I become stronger…healthier…and I want to paint a positive result.

In this case, an insolent “Lighten Up” turned into my self-affirming message of “I Will Rise Above”.

(Supplies:  One Mixed Media Notebook, Gesso, Small Plastic Bottles of Inexpensive Acrylic Paints, Mod Podge, Paint Brushes, Sharpie Black Marker, Collage Pieces Painted on Recycled Papers)