Just got to my dorm at UCLA I’m doing a ‘residency’ here where they are going to help me create a play out of “Sane New World” and I get the use of all the film departments animators, digital and film people to create the visuals so it’s not just one woman up there (me) but a whole visual feast.
I recently created a Twitter contest challenging people to write in the craziest thing they’ve ever done to win some of my books. This is a question I ask almost everyone at some point in our relationship as I wonder, what could be more interesting? Maybe I say this because I’m crazy but I can’t imagine a better conversation opener. Some people sent in fantastic replies, here are some examples:
A co worker asked me to guess what veg he grew in his garden i lost it and that was my last day I worked
After recovering from a manic episode, I met a guy in Bangladesh, got married 3 days later. Will be 10yrs together!
These kind of answers make me want to go out, hunt them down and drag them back to my house for a dinner party.
Other people had an interesting response, that they were too afraid of exposing this information in case anyone at their work found out and they might be dismissed.
I didn’t say it had to be crazy as in mentally ill –‘setting the neighbourhood on fire’. It could have been funny crazy as in – ‘when I was ten I put sardines in all the lighting fixtures at school so they had to evacuate the building.’ (This is a true story of something I did to get out of taking a test). It’s so revealing that as far as ‘acting crazy’ is concerned, we still live in a climate of fear not a million miles from the old days when they burnt you at the stake for being weird (See witch). I’m not encouraging anyone to ‘come out’ because the laws are against us. 22% of employees felt they were dismissed because of mental illness so this isn’t our imagination. They ask on some job applications if you’ve ever suffered from mental illness and to be honest if I was looking for work I’d check the ‘no’ box because I’ve got mouths to feed. So this is where we are, but hopefully if people start talking and meeting and eventually being brave enough to come out, the laws will have to change as they did with the Gay Movement. But how revealing it is to see how many of us still hunker in fear of being found out.
In Ireland for the last 24 hours plugging book –“Sane New World” (another plug).
I thought the Irish would be the last to speak about mental illness-I thought they were a ‘keeping it to themselves’ people. Last night I did a live interview in a theatre for a large audience and during question and answer there were no questions only a large number of brave souls standing up to tell their stories because maybe they’re too ashamed to tell their friends or families. But here in the darkness one woman stood up and confessed she had both cancer and then depression and the depression was far worse. With visible signs like loss of hair you get sympathy, with depression no one wants to know and if they find out they tell you to ‘snap out of it’. To me this is like slapping someone with Alzheimer’s to buck up and remember what happened yesterday. Another woman stood up to confess she’s terrified that she passed her disease to her daughter. Another says their kid is suffering from the stress of exams and he’s scared she’s going to do something drastic. (In Ireland there are twice as many suicides for young people). Everyone wants to talk in the dark and spill his or her stories because we have no other place to talk. Again I harp on that we should have walk-in centres similar to AA where the 1 in 4 can talk drugs, symptoms and bitch together to unload the shame. (It’s healing to unleash rather than hunker in a hole in fear of being caught with something mental).
They thank me at the end but I should thank them for being brave enough to come out of the darkness so the rest of us don’t feel so alone.
This is the week my book comes out which is about the brain and how to manage it especially when it nose -dives into anxiety, fear, burn-out (You know those feelings that are not your friends). Ironically with the launching of my book I find myself highly anxious from putting something I’ve put so much into out for the public to scrutinize. This is my trigger. In the past I would now be tipping toward depression; cortisol flooding my brain making me become more and more compulsive.