Monday, November 19, 2012

On Being Angsty, or Sick, or Something

See title.

I hope I am sick.

But I'm pretty sure finding out that if I ever want to be an IS major I should probably be in 2 IS classes next semester, despite the fact that I'm still not sure I want to be an IS major, a messy room, a tough news story, and feeling generally inadequate at this amazing, and yet inadequate in itself place is enough to make one angsty.  Maybe even depressed.

We'll hope for physical illness...

Also, I can't spell inadequate tonight.  Hooray!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Catch me I'm Falling

This weekend, I saw a musical called Next to Normal (the Mixed Blood Theater version was AMAZING).  It is a musical primarily about bipolar depressive disorder and its effects on one family, but it also explores a lot of ways people can be hurting.

One of the songs involves lyrics repeated over and over-

"Catch me I'm falling"
"Catch me before it's too late."

I want to talk about this because I think a lot of people are falling right now.  My school has a lot of demands and a lot of pressures, not to mention that everyone here has lives outside of that.  Macalester is a great school, but sophomore year is undeniably difficult, and I can see in some, in too many, the stress just below the smile.  And I know that so many people are lying when I ask them how they are.

Here's the thing- no one is going to tell you they are falling.  But no one wants to hit the ground.  If you notice the things that I do, please check in with people.  Please don't assume they will feel uncomfortable if you address it.

I have spent weeks, weeks of my life just waiting for someone to give me the slightest opening to tell them that I am not okay.  And I am a person who is OPEN about their feelings.  In those times, I would love nothing more for someone to see me struggling and to take that first step of asking me how I am and wanting to truly know the answer.

I want to be one of those people, and I want you to as well.

If someone does let you in, even the slightest bit, take them seriously.  People spend a lot of time not understanding that what their loved ones are going through is serious.  When I tell someone I am not okay, sometimes they don't know what that means.  And they don't even have to if they affirm what I am feeling and give me love.  Just know, if someone says they are falling, they are very likely awfully close to the ground.

If you are falling- I want you to know this:  It is okay to be falling.  It is okay not to be okay.  It is okay not to do/ be able to do "all the things your peers can do." It is okay to spend a day in your pajamas doing things that make you happy.  It is okay to ask for help.  It is all okay. It won't be like this forever.  And you do not need a diagnosed mental illness to be falling.  Everyone falls sometime. Do not feel alone.  If you can, find the people who will catch you and let them know you need to be caught- because the scary part is, even I, someone who knows the lie behind the smile, can't always see it.

But if you ever need an ally, I'll be by your side.

I won't let you fall.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Failure of Systems

Trigger warning- alcoholism, car accident

Hey everyone.  I just want to take the time to honor the life of Austin Conley, a 20-year-old Augsburg College student, who died after being struck by a car this past weekend.  It was a hit and run.  He was my mom's student, and from what I have heard, a very special young man.  But I don't just want to talk about him.  Because everyone who dies in accidents such as this is valuable.  Everyone who gets  hurt by the systems our world has set up has a special life that deserves to be honored, no matter who they are.

And yes, Austin Conley was hit by a drunk driver.  But he was killed by systems.

Because the woman who killed him had a prior DWI charge, had violated her probation, and did not appear in court for this violation hearing until she was picked up and made to go.

And according to the news article, "Two other drivers on the road that night told police that before the impact, the Lumina's driver was swerving, cutting off others and nearly hit another car."

Which might mean the police had been called about the driver prior to the incident.

The driver who hit Austin was sick.  And if I were to guess, circumstances in her life were stacked against her.  That doesn't give her an excuse.  She should have never gotten into a car at 2:30 on a Sunday morning so inebriated that she could hit a person at 90 miles per hour and claim to not have  known.  But in her illness, and her failure to get better, systems are at least partially to blame. These systems make it hard for the poor, those whose perceived racial identity is black, and women to get by.

But even worse is the judicial system. How can you let someone who has driven drunk before AND not fulfilled the terms of her probation keep driving?  What about help for alcoholism, or Breathalyzers before the car starts?

Nothing can bring back Austin.  Nothing can account for the immense pain those who knew him are in.  And it doesn't help that the world in which we live makes these situations all too easy.  

Notice how I didn't call it an accident.  It wasn't.