All religions have some good points, even ones with which you don’t quite always agree.
Personally, I am very fond of the Christian concept of “forgiveness.” It is not “I forgive you, let’s go hang out.” It is closer to “God forgives you, now please go away and never come back.”
You can forgive someone and not want anything to do with them. It took me the better part of a lifetime to figure out that my version of “forgive” and the Christian concept of “forgiveness” were not the same thing. Actually, they were not even close.
Forgiveness is about handing over your burden of pain and anger to your more powerful entity or whatever you want to call it.
It’s a brilliant concept. Dumping the burden, whether you throw it into the air to be absorbed into the never-ending universe or write it into your computer’s hard drive, it doesn’t matter. Whatever gives you your freedom, do it.
Forgiveness works because it’s a process. When you understand it, it gives you a place to start and a finish that includes freedom from anger and hate. Forgiveness matters. Not just religiously, but personally. If you never let go of the pain, anger or hurt, you can’t grow. You dry up.
After all these years, I wonder how so many smart people do such incredibly stupid things even when we (they) know better. Women marrying vicious men and staying with them long years after anyone — EVERYONE — can see they are in a hopeless, dangerous situation. Ditto men with women who are awful for them and make their lives into a hell. These are choices people make. Voluntarily. It isn’t always oppression or victimization. It can also be bad personal choices. Shame and pride keep people stuck in terrible situations.
Abuse is a huge issue in my world. If I can’t understand the bad choices people make when choosing mates, how can it be that parents abuse their children? Rape them? Beat them? Torment them? And sometimes kill them?
It turns the meaning of life upside down and inside out. Where is faith to be found in this horror? I can’t answer it because faith has always eluded me. The depravity of which people are capable is literally beyond my ability to contemplate. Torture? Intentional slaughter of an entire people? Abusing a child or dog to death?
Where is God in this?
The issue of abuse was important, to me because I was abused. The more I learn about it, the more people I discover who were also abused. It is not all that rare after all. Many people were abused as children and a lifetime later, still can’t talk about it.
I don’t mean can’t talk about it much. Can’t talk about it at all. I was able to get people to talk to me, at least a bit. To the extent, they could admit something happened. The sense of shame, anger, and horror which clings to victims is hard to understand given that victimization was unsought, unwanted, and terrifying.
Yet there it is. We are shamed by the evil others committed on us.
What makes it so much more difficult is that people whose lives were untouched by abuse don’t believe it happened. Their disbelief intensifies the shame. Not only do “regular” people disbelieve us, but judges, lawyers, police officers, teachers and other family members refuse to accept it. Nor has anyone a solution to fix it. Taking kids away and handing them to a stepfamily isn’t an answer. So many of these “temporary placements” are worse than the places from which the kids came.
It’s a problem we spend a lot of time talking about — and little effort solving. It’s a weird world in which we live.
Carrie Fisher was Bi-polar. To her credit, she talked about her condition openly and honestly. She brought attention to the disorder and tried to reduce the stigma associated with this, as well as other, mental illnesses. It’s sad that we need celebrities with diseases to increase public awareness about their given malady. But mental illnesses are inherently hard to diagnose, treat and talk about. So as long as people get educated about them, I guess it doesn’t matter how or why.
I have an unwanted and involuntary expertise in Bi-Polar Disorder. Both my ex-husband and my son had/have the disease (my ex is deceased). Each of them manifested the condition differently – my ex was mostly manic and my son was mostly depressed. One of the most difficult aspects of this disorder is the fact that it can look so different in different people. This makes it much harder to diagnose because there is no one size fits all set of symptoms to identify.
This makes it harder on the families too, who don’t always get the support they need from the medical community. It also makes it easier for the Bi-polar person to deny that they have an identifiable syndrome that requires treatment. This denial is very common in Bi-Polar Disease. Also common is the refusal to stay on medication. These factors just add to the difficulties and pain of the family members.
The families of Bi-polar sufferers feel different from other families. We know that other families’ lives are not fraught with the unpredictability, volatility and often violence (emotional if not physical) that ours are. We seem to be the only ones living on a roller coaster. We feel inferior, ashamed and isolated. Family members, me included, try to ‘cover up’ the problem and cover for the often inappropriate behavior of the bi-polar loved one. I made countless excuses for the actions and absences of my ex. My daughter tried to avoid the issue altogether by going to friends’ houses and never having friends come to ours when Daddy was ‘off’ or ‘acting up’.
When you live with a bi-polar person, you wonder what’s wrong with you that you live like this. You wonder why you aren’t like other people. Your ego and self- esteem suffer. This is particularly devastating for kids. My kids are in their 30’s and are still dealing with these issues. They are moving on from some questionable relationship choices they made in the past because of their lingering psychological demons.
On the other hand, denial and defending are also big parts of life with a B-polar person. While married to my ex, after one of his particularly bad manic episodes, I was advised by psychiatrists to go to a program for abused spouses. I thought that they were crazy. I was in therapy already and I was clearly not in that pathetic category! That label did not apply to me! Of course I didn’t go. I often wonder what would have been different in my life if I had received the support and empowerment I needed at that point in time. I now realize that the whole family needs support and treatment specifically designed to deal with the mentally ill family member. My individual therapy was not enough.
Today, there are claims that too many people are being labeled ADHD or Bi-Polar; that it’s become a psychiatric fad to assign mental illness labels to people and ply them with drugs. To me, it’s better to spread a wide net to catch all the people with serious issues and get them the treatment they need. You’re not going to be misdiagnosed if your behavior is perfectly within the range of normal. Something is going on if a doctor thinks you might be Bi-polar! If it’s not manic depression, then it certainly is something else that needs attention and possibly medication! Sometimes the only way to come up with an effective treatment is by experimenting.
I became very pro-active psychiatrically. My daughter started to have panic attacks at age eleven and I got her on medication immediately. She is grateful to me that she never had to go through the torture of years of horrible anxiety symptoms. She would not have been able to function effectively through school and in jobs without her anxiety meds.
I couldn’t get my ex to stay on meds and get a stable life. But at least I got my daughter on medication early so she had fewer issues getting through life than she would have without my early intervention. At least I have one psychiatric success story to brag about!
I’m not the first person to see this, but have any of you noticed that 2018 seems like 2017 on steroids? January is barely half over, and it seems like over a half-year has gone by. In 2017, we experienced “Trump Time.”
A crazy story that would have normally lasted a week or two, or maybe even a month, lasted for two days, tops. We were reeling from the insane shit the Shithead-in-Chief did on a Monday, only to completely forget about it because he did something even crazier on Tuesday. And that’s how it went all year.
But something happened, or seemed to happen on January 1, 2018. The crazy went into overdrive. I say ‘seemed’ to happen because his turning the crazy up to eleven was inevitable.
Why? Well, it’s because of the word exponential. Most of us know what it means, but I think most of us don’t really understand it.
1. (Of an increase) becoming more and more rapid. “The social security budget was rising at an exponential rate.”
2. MATHEMATICS – Of, or expressed by, a mathematical exponent, for example, “an exponential curve.”
More specifically, we need to understand exponential growth, something that gets bigger and bigger, or grows faster and faster over time.
It’s hard for humans to think like that because we are hard-wired to think linearly. It’s easy for us to understand it takes a guy two hours to paint a room, so he can paint two rooms in four hours. Commonsense, right? That kind of commonsense is part of our DNA. It helped us survive in the old caveman days. Back then, we had to be able to figure out in a hurry how fast we had to run to get to that tree before the really large saber tooth tiger caught up to us and ate us for lunch.
The best example of exponential growth today is in technology. Like, say, computers. There’s a thing called “Moore’s Law.” It says the processing power of computers doubles and the cost is cut in half every 12 to 18 months.
That was true, but, it is a perfect example of linear thinking. In reality, the time that computers double in power and drop in cost is taking less and less time. Science and all knowledge, is growing at an accelerated rate.
It has always been that way. The increase in human knowledge has always been on an exponential curve, but the way the curve works didn’t make it seem that way until recently. On an exponential curve, things grow at a steady rate for a long time. Then suddenly, it hits a tipping point and everything begins to race along much faster.
Think about it. Humans have been on this planet as Homo sapiens for a few million years. Most of that time, we spent surviving. And throwing rocks at each other. Then, about 12,000 years ago, we stopped roaming and settled down. Although we still threw rocks at each other.
We created agriculture and civilization. Why did we do that? Because we discovered beer. I know this sounds like a joke, but it’s true. There’s a great documentary called “How Beer Saved The World.’ It’s fascinating, but that’s another blog for another day.
Basically, we had a choice. We could continue to wander around and throw rocks at each other. Or, we could stay home and make more beer. And throw rocks at each other. It wasn’t a hard decision.Think of all the science — all the knowledge — mankind figured out starting 12,000 years ago up until 1900. By the 1900’s the industrial revolution was well underway. Cities were lit by gas and some places, by electricity. People and industry moved on steam-powered trains. The internal combustion engine was in production.
All this knowledge doubled between 1900 and the 1960’s. From horse-drawn carriages to putting a man on the moon.
The knowledge of mankind doubled again between 1960 and 1980, then doubled again by 1990.
Can we remember when smartphones didn’t exist? When iPads didn’t exist? They’ve been around for a while, right? Actually, the iPhone came out June 29, 2007. That was just ten years ago. The iPad was released on April 3, 2010. Just seven and a half years ago!
When my step son was diagnosed with kidney disease, he was told he would need a transplant. I asked his doctor if an artificial kidney would soon be available. He said, yes, but not for at least 50 years.
A few years later, he received the transplant and Ellin was the donor. After the surgery was over I asked the same doctor the same question. His answer? “Oh yeah, they will probably make a kidney from his own stem cells. Maybe five, ten years from now. ”
That was five years ago. Today, they’re talking about making kidneys with a 3D printer.
Mankind reached the tipping point of that exponential curve. We’re at the point where the curve ends and the line goes straight up. This is when our knowledge quite literally explodes.
This is not something I thought of myself. There is a fascinating book by futurist Robert Kurzweil, called “The Singularity Is Near.” I highly recommend it.
What does any of this have to do with our Toddler-In-Chief? A lot. In particular, with his mental illness. Literally hundreds of psychiatrists and psychologists are screaming at the top of their lungs that this nut job is, well, nuts. and getting worse.
They have collectively pointed out that the stress of the job is accelerating his illness. He’s not merely getting crazier at warp speed. He has gone all the way to plaid!
You can see it yourself and you don’t need a Ph.D either.
Every interview he gives is a trip further down the rabbit hole. His last few interviews have gone from, “Bizarre” to “Unhinged” to “Insane” to “Insanely insane.” Read the transcript of his last interview with The Wall Street Journal. It was a literal word salad. Not a single sentence was complete or made any sense.
I just watched a news conference where the doctor that supposedly just examined Trump said he passed a cognitive mental test and he got all 30 questions right!
Really? The questions were things like “name four animals” and “point out what 3:15 looks like on a clock.” Wow, so the President is sane because he recognizes a cow, a pig, a dog,a rhinoceros and a pussy. He also knows when it’s quarter after three.
Do the same test next month.
I think Grandpa is not just losing it. He’s losing it faster and faster each day. It’s time to take away the keys to his car. Remove the big nuclear button from his desk. Get him into the memory care unit at a good nursing home. Hell, you can designate Mar-A-Lago as his official nursing home and lock him in his room. It’s only the middle of January as I write this and I’m hoping we make it to February. Last year, at this time we were hoping to make it to 2020. The month isn’t even over yet and he’s managed to shut down the government. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.
I apologize for not finding more humor in all of this. I try, but sometimes it just ain’t there. So, to make up for it. Here are two dogs playing “I Got Your Nose!”.
This post was originally written months ago. It should have been topical and no longer relevant. Instead, it’s even more relevant.
In almost all TV cop shows and movies, the bad guy, usually a mad psychotic, a mad genius or a mad, psychotic genius, is always one step ahead of the good guys.
For at least the first half of the show, the good guys keep getting caught in the bad guy’s traps.
Or (and?) the bad guy keeps escaping at the last minute.
Inevitably, at some point (usually about half way through the show) the chief good guy says: “We’re constantly playing catch up. We gotta get ahead of this guy.”
This is when someone on the team, usually the brilliant but nerdy computer expert, will find a tidbit of information which leads the good guys to finally capture or kill the bad guy. The end. Stay tuned after the break for scenes from next week’s episode.
After a year of 45’s rule … it seems impossible, but has it really been just a year? It feels like a lifetime!
We’ve learned a few things.
As bad as we all thought 45 would be, it’s a hundred times worse.
45 is not going to “pivot” or become “Presidential.” He is actually doing every crazy thing he said he was going to do during the campaign. No matter how stupid, counter-productive, or dangerous.
We learned who the President really was. Steve Bannon. Or was. Now … I have no idea.
Bannon was the one writing all these insane executive orders. For months, the guy running the country (until he either quit or was fired or some bizarre combination of both) was an avowed White Supremacist who stated he wanted to blow up the government. He wants a world-wide “Crusade” against Muslims and he considers himself “The Thomas Cromwell to the court of the Tudors.”
Yeah, he really said that. I’m surprised he knew who Thomas Cromwell was. I wonder if he also knew what happened to Mr. Cromwell.
The U.S. government has been turned into a very, very bad reality show.
The American press has been declared “The Opposition Party” and the enemy of the state. Fake news. Or as I believe they are going to be, “The Good Guys”.
In this new, very bad, Reality Show, we’re early in the first half of the show. The media are constantly playing catch up. They have to react to every insane tweet. Every blatant lie. Every horrific executive order. Before they can fully expose how crazy the last tweet or lie is, another one comes out.
This is not the way to handle these chuckle heads. The press has to get ahead of these guys. And we don’t need a brilliant but nerdy computer genius to do it. The press hasn’t caught on yet, but they are the people driving this administration. It’s been reported extensively that 45 has the attention span of a puppy.
He obsessively watches cable news. He then goes off on a twitter rant over whatever it is that he sees.
This is how you get ahead of him. Don’t react to the latest tweet with hours of dissection. Report it and keep going back to a single narrative, a single point. And that point is: “Is The President of the United States Mentally Ill?”
It’s a question being raised more and more all over the world.
“There’s something wrong with this guy.”
“This is not normal.”
“This guy is nuts.”
This is a valid question, the kind of thing cable news is really good at. Cable news spends much more time putting pundits and “experts” on the air to blather over the latest tweet or the last lie than actually doing investigative reporting. Let’s start getting experts and pundits talking about this for real.
The current resident of the Oval Office is a textbook case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder (yes, you can have multiple personality disorders at the same time).
This is something both my wife and I are intimately familiar with. Both of our exes suffered from the former. Here is a test sample question from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM-V.
Any of that sound familiar?
Now, when the press starts asking these questions, the blowback from the administration will be intense. Which is great. Why are they so defensive? Does the President have something to hide? I personally don’t know, but I hear lots of people saying that the President is loony as a tick. (See, we can do that trick too). But in this case
IT’S A VALID QUESTION!!
The President has to have an annual physical exam — which he never did, by the way — so. why not a psychological exam? This needs to become the narrative of the day. Every day. From now on. No matter what “President Bannon” orders. Whatever Cheesy McCheese Head tweets, we have to keep coming back to this topic.
IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES MENTALLY ILL?
I pointed out that it was really important the press and the media focus on this fact like a laser beam. Every story about our NBIC (I’m too lazy to keep typing Nut-Ball In Chief), or coverage of his latest NBIC Tweet should always go back to the same topic. “THIS GUY IS MENTALLY ILL!!”
I’ve said this before and I will keep saying it. When Grandpa’s mind starts to slip and he shows signs of dementia, we take away his car keys. We hire nurses to come into his home to help him. Or we put him in a nursing home. But what is the one thing we don’t do? WE DON’T PUT GRANDPA IN THE OVAL OFFICE!!!
On the plus side, the media has been doing this more and more. There is a large group of psychiatrists and psychologist called “Duty To Warn” that are writing letters and screaming at the top of their lungs. THIS GUY IS BAT-SHIT CRAZY! They just use more medically correct language.
But I didn’t start this particular post to talk about our NBIC. I want to talk about a larger group of nut-jobs. Specifically, the nut-jobs who voted for this nut-job. Trump supporters.
Let me be even more specific. Trump supporters who still support this NBIC. I understand that on election day lots of former Obama supporters voted for him and lots of other people who felt he might “shake things up” voted for him. As far as the latter group goes, I would say an earthquake also shakes things up. That doesn’t mean I want to be around when one happens.
I get it. You had your reasons. That was then. This is now.
We know how crazy this guy is. We know how incompetent this guy is. We know how clueless this guy is. We know this guy is “A fucking moron.” And still, 28 to 33 percent of Americans still support this train wreck??
The media has been doing something since this guy got elected which drives me crazy. No matter what he does, no matter how stupid it is, no matter how mind-boggling and horrific it is, the media always tags the story with this. “But his base still supports him.”
To this I say “SO WHAT!!!” Because those assholes still support this jerk, everything he does is OK? Well, they say Republicans won’t do anything because they are “afraid of his base.” They are afraid of being “primaried“ by a more right-wing Republican.
Really? Has anybody noticed that most of the Republicans in office are folks who “primaried” a more moderate Republican. Most are Tea Party whack jobs. They’re all white supremacists. They defend NAZIs! Who the hell is out there who is more right-wing than the crazy bastards who are currently there???
The only thing we can do is to vote them out next year.
The other thing that drives me nuts are the constant stories about “How do we reach the Trump voter? What will it take to turn them against Trump?”
I have the answer.
NOTHING. These whack jobs are lost. They believe every stupid conspiracy theory put out by the alt-right. They will never wake up. Even after they don’t get new jobs. Even after their taxes go up when rich billionaires’ taxes go down. Even when they get poorer and poorer. Even when they lose their health care.
They are lost. Forget them. Ignore them.
Try to remember this very, very important fact. THEY ARE A MINORITY!! Our NBIC lost the popular vote by more than three million votes. Almost three-quarters of the population of the U.S.DON’T LIKE THIS IDIOT. Focus on the other half of the country, the folks who didn’t vote at all. At least there’ s hope for them.
As for “the base?” You are never going to change their minds.
Or this guy.
Or this one.
Trying to reason with a current Trump supporter is like trying to teach a pig to fly. You just frustrate yourself and annoy the pig.
PS: What does any of this have to do with Nutter Butter? Actually, nothing. I just like to write alliterative titles in threes. And I like Nutter Butter.
It was the night of October 18, 1987. My husband, Larry, had been devolving into a state of paranoid rage for several weeks. He couldn’t enter the house at this point without punching something, like a wall. Or breaking something.
That night was the worst. He was screaming at me. He knocked me down and put his hands around my neck. He stopped himself, in horror. He said he had to leave the house so he wouldn’t hurt me. He didn’t want to hurt me. So he left me alone with my two-year old and seven-year old, both sleeping peacefully through the whole scene.
I was panicked and confused. I didn’t understand what was happening to my husband. I didn’t know what would happen to my family. Was he gone for good? Could he be reached and helped?
First thing the next morning, October 19, 1987, I called my mother. I started to cry to her about my critical situation. She couldn’t talk. She was hysterical herself. The stock market had just crashed epically. She had lost 40% of her net worth.
I was stunned. I quickly called my broker and was told about the crash. It was being called “Black Monday”. I too had lost about 40% of my net worth. We relied on my investment income to pay our bills, which were more than my husband’s income alone could cover. So now I had no husband and not enough money to live on.
I remember sitting on the floor in the bedroom in shock. What was going to happen to me and my family now? My whole world was coming apart at the seams, literally, all in one day.
I asked the au pair to take my two-year old out for a while so I could have a meltdown in private. I cried hysterically. I paced. I couldn’t see light at the end of this double-barreled tunnel.
Larry finally called. He was staying at a nearby hotel. He was seeing his psychiatrist and was going on medication. We had no idea if the meds would work. The initial meds just sedated him and he could barely function and work. Eventually they decided to try Lithium, the medication for bipolar disorder. The psychiatrist didn’t think it would work but it was worth a try.
The Lithium took six weeks to kick in. Six weeks to the day, Larry became a totally different person. Calm, together, reasonable. He was clearly bipolar. He moved back home and had a very good year or two – until he decided to stop taking his Lithium. Going on and off of Lithium would be the roller coaster we lived on for the rest of our marriage. Years of normalcy followed by years of increasingly worse mania. Larry, like many bipolar people, refused to stay on his meds for any length of time. Even though they helped dramatically (which he didn’t see) and had no side effects.
The financial crisis also took time to rectify itself. My brokers panicked and sold me out of many assets at their low. So I actually lost a lot of money. The investments I kept came back eventually. We muddled through financially.
So I survived the day from Hell. I’ve never had another day with so much earth-shattering, life-changing events hitting at the same time.
Many of my friends over the years have had psychological issues. My friend Nanc took the prize in that category.
I met Nanc at a book club at my town library. She was well read and interesting, which is what attracted me to her in the first place. She was also opinionated, pushy and talked all the time. She had no filter or mute button. It always seemed like she was on uppers.
As I got to know her, I realized that she was often irrational and out of control. She could not control her own behavior or her mouth. She had poor judgment and little understanding of the consequences of her actions or words. At this point, I felt sorry for her and was trying to help her stay out of trouble. I am intimately familiar with Bipolar Disorder and in my lay opinion, that’s what was at the root of Nanc’s problems.
Nanc had a messy divorce and was very bitter about her ex. She was obsessed with this man. At one point, she grabbed his phone and threw it in the toilet. That was called an ‘assault’ when the ex reported her to the police.
Nanc texted him and called him constantly, leaving inflammatory messages. She was often strident, attacking and unhinged. Her ex got a restraining order against her, prohibiting her from communicating with him in any way. They still had to co-parent their four daughters together, so she basically ignored the restraining order.
The police came to her door late one night. Nanc fought with one officer and cursed at another at top volume. I think she also spat at one of them. She was carted off to jail in her nightgown, without her purse. It took her two days to contact her lawyer and her daughter to come and get her out.
This is when I came into the picture. Nanc had a court date regarding her attack on the police and her violations of the restraining order. She was frantic and hysterical — was alienating her lawyer. She somehow ended up at my house the night before the hearing. She also somehow didn’t have her car and had to borrow our spare car to get to court.
I went to court with her, along with another friend. We were there for moral support, but also to try to get her to behave calmly and reasonably in front of the judge. That didn’t happen. She went on a tirade in the courtroom and was ordered to prison. Immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars! I didn’t know they could even do that.
My first thought as she was being carted off, screaming, was that I had no idea where she had parked my car. Nanc managed to get me the keys and told her lawyer where the car was. All I had to do was find the lawyer, who left the courtroom with Nanc. And get someone to drive my car home while I drove the car Nanc had driven. OY! A minister and his wife who had also come to court for Nanc helped me and I got both cars home.
Nanc was sentenced to seven months in prison! One of her daughters had to come to my house to collect the stuff that Nanc had left there.
I visited Nanc twice in prison. That was an experience! She had no horror stories to tell about her stay in prison. Just sad stories about the women she met there. She took it upon herself to try to convince two women to get straight and get a job when they got out. She was one of the few middle class white women there and she became something of a guru to some of the down and out women there.
I stayed friends with Nanc for a while after she got out of prison. But she cycled hot and cold with me. She loved me one minute and I was the best friend she had ever had. Then, every few months, she’d turn on me and rant at me about not being there for her and for not treating her like I treated my other friends. Which wasn’t true.
After the third time this happened, I sent her copies of the identical negative, critical, attacking emails she had sent me the two previous times. I told her this was a clear pattern and that she needed to get psychiatric help.
I ended the friendship. I just couldn’t deal with the drama anymore. Her ups and downs and her hostility and paranoia was getting to me. I had too much of this Bipolar type behavior with my first husband and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. That may have been selfish of me, but she was not my responsibility.
Also, my husband said it would be grounds for divorce if he ever had to see her again or hear about her crazy life again.
Nanc actually thanked me for my email. It showed her, in black and white, for the first time, how she came across to others. She was grateful. She finally understood why she had so many problems in her relationships. She was also finally motivated to get proper medical help. I’m glad I was instrumental in helping her take the first steps toward getting herself and her life together, but I still didn’t want her in my life anymore. So I have no idea what happened to her.
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