Since the idea to write first became a squatter in a neglected corner of my mind, there has been an unraveling and reweaving happening in my life. The writing of my first book, Summoning the Strength, was fueled by the emotion known for its ability purge demons. (metaphorical ones) Anger. Anger at the loss of my friend to cancer and anger at the lack of progress humanity has made toward ending violence against women. Recent events making that reality even more maddening, have set me on fire.
Well, if you’re reading this, I am grateful to you. The truth is I am humbled by the honesty of those who share their private battles for the benefit of others who may be trying to figure out who they are. The premise for my second book is another unraveling and reweaving of sorts, in the life of a young woman named Emily Branch. She is a fictional character, but her experiences are far from imaginary. She encounters the same highs and lows each of us experience as we figure where we belong in a world constantly struggling for control of our hearts and minds.
Both women and men are tormented with egocentric anxiety, avaricious impulses, and despair. There are those who would have us believe depression is a consequence of disobedience, or worse, that humans are pawns in some ancient feud between a jealous deity and rouge angel. I am no theologian, but even I know a belief system rife with inconsistencies begs to be challenged.
What a way to set us up for failure! The phrase, we’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore, never seemed more appropriate.
Unlike sibling rivalry or adolescent rebellion, the adversary, once spoken of in hushed tones if spoken of at all, holds a family secret. Euphemisms for the volatile phantom abound, but madness has lost its distinction among modern maladies. By degrees, delusional by chance or choice, now everyone is a little crazy. It’s the new norm.
Initiatives to demystify mental illness, or at least profit from it, have created a heightened sensitivity to euphemisms we use to minimize our uneasiness when talking about emotional disturbances that lead to domestic violence, even suicide. Fears once quelled by expressions such as nuts, loony bin, funny farm are socially unacceptable in today’s climate of political correctness that does less to educate and more to dictate insecurities and fears be suppressed until they ignite. Global warming in action.
Mental illness, whether acknowledged or kept secret, eventually spills into all our lives. Sure, there are coping mechanisms that work to keep most of us from going all kinds of Jerry Springer, but there is no such thing as a perfect family. Crazies are a not new phenomenon. After all, the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree, but the poor misguided youth defense is right up there with the Twinkie junkie claiming mental defect as an excuse to not be held accountable for their actions. The million dollar question of the day is how to address the escalating violent behavior in our society. Shouting Stop! You’re breaking the law, doesn’t seem an effective way to solve the problem. Neither does medicating everyone into a dysfunctional stupor.
To understand how mental illness becomes woven into the fabric of one’s own life, some search for a single point of reference – defective nature, flawed nurture, demonic forces, fluoride in drinking water. Sometimes that single point of reference is a lie. Sometimes we haven’t gone crazy at all. Sometimes the truth is Beyond Belief.
“Many draw the “seen” while I choose to portray the perceived – the meaning the mind gives to the objects – not what the eye sees.”~~CJ Bradford
29 thoughts on “Madder Than A March Hare”
You said it so very well. (Also, I friggin’ loved that Roald Dahl poem! Man’s a genius, I tell you). Mental illness is such a stigmatized thing to have that, even though people are becoming more open about it, it’s still seen by many as a shame to admit. I wish it were not so. You’re right, mental illness of all kinds will touch anyone and everyone. I have yet to purchase Summoning the Strength for my Nook, but believe that I will and will also be getting Beyond Belief! Looking forward to the day you say it’s done!
True Hala J. Being open about it, I think, will probably always result in mixed responses, ranging from compassion to rejection, not necessarily from where we might expect.
Beyond Belief – gaaahhh if the unrelenting tweaker in me can turn it loose!
My post is scheduled to go up at high noon Pacific time! Hope you’re ready. 🙂
I was born ready, Mr. Petruska! Can’t wait to read it. 🙂
Another one to look forward to, I will await with bated (or is that baited) breath. No perfect families? I am stunned, here I went around thinking mine was an anomaly (not really).
It’s a shocker, isn’t it? Book II – still a heap of edits, but soon….
What a great poem. And I have to say, I have NO IDEA why I told you about my mother’s name. Glad you could find some humor in that.
It is a great poem. Creepy sort of, I think.
You have embarked on a very brave journey Honie. But a very necessary one. Just last night there was a segment on the news about the death of a young man here in Australia. He was suffering from some form of paranoia but was not violent. Yet, through a series of misunderstandings and ignorance, he was shot dead by a police officer. His family is still in shock but are determined to change the effing system. There has to be a better way.
You’re right, there has to be a better way.
Very cool. I’d be interested in reading your work just because of the obvious emotion you feel for the topics, and their importance and meaning in your own life.
Well Mr. Petruska, be my guest. Read any of my work you wish. Oh, and don’t forget the show down at high noon this Wednesday.
Ahh, yes. A letter to our future selves, right? I’m still in!
My father’s second wife was bipolar. I met her long before my Pop and her were an item – I went to church with her. Her illness was right there for the world to see, but no one spoke of it. Jan was just “off”. Watching her struggle for the dozen years she was involved with my dad was confusing and sometimes frustrating, mostly because of the elephant in the room. Since his death I have lost all contact with Jan. I know she is struggling with addiction and I had believed that she would always be a part of our lives, but she has a paranoia about those of us who she used to call family. I know it’s the illness and abuse that she suffered through – still I miss her and wish that she could bear to be in our lives. Unlike most other afflictions, mental illness separates us instead of rallying us around the victim.
It is confusing and scary when false evidence appearing real (fear) causes someone we care for to struggle for release. Feeling powerless to help or being too overwhelmed by frustration to keep trying often does separate us from those we love. If for no other reason than self-preservation.
True – I think that there is a lack of empathy when it comes to mental illness – it’s very easy to equate mental illness with a lack of intelligence. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s very hard to really connect with someone who fears interaction. Jan could never be confident that we cared about her, no matter how often we tried to assure her. I miss her, but in truth I never understood her.
Great post, Honie. I think many people suffer from mental issues and are taught to not air their “dirty laundry.” It’s difficult to talk about and to put into words. Most of my fictional characters suffer from some kind of mental something and it sounds as if your character will be an interesting one to get to know. Medicating has become the norm as it’s easier to do that than to work through the issues one needs to. I’m not saying there’s not a need at times — of course,there is but I think many doctors have a knee-jerk response to medication instead of TALKING to a person.
P.S. (That wabbit is very scary).
You are on to something there Brigitte. This may very well be why I constantly find myself doing laundry when I’m not writing. Symbolic or symptomatic? 😉
Outstanding post – so much truth it’s hard to know where to start.
Fools ignore reality at their own risk.
That 7th paragraph pretty much says it all – (may many many read it and consider)
Love the Gothic Hare – so complex and beautiful.Great find – thanks for sharing
Thank you. I discovered CJ Bradford last year at the Cottonwood Art Festival here in NT and was completely drawn to his Gothic Hare.
I continue to be inspired by your passionate writing. Your next book will not be better than Summoning The Strength – just a different variety of GREAT! I look forward to reading your story of Emily Branch in your next book: Beyond Belief. I’m sure it will detail the story of more strong women like yourself. Also, I am very impressed that you were able to get a photo from the Chuck Norris – Bunny School of Self Defense. Keep writing and entertaining us through your thoughtful words and great photos!
Dear Loyal Follower,
You said it, Honie. And thank you so much for linking to my BBW post! Mental illness touches everyone at some point–sometimes it pays visits only every so often, sometimes it camps out for life and you have to learn to co-exist with it somehow. And then there are people who are not mentally ill but just stupid or evil. Political correctness about words like “crazy” haven’t done anything except deflect from the real issues.
Exactly Madame. “…deflect from the real issues.” PC rat bastards!
The punk rabbit and the last paragraph got me nodding my head in recognition. Glad I’m following your blog: indeed, people sharing their battles … unlearning, challenging theological doctrines … This comment doesn’t say much because I’m in a learning curve of even accepting that I’m now allowed to challenge religious, political, societal doctrines. The war on women is mad. Unlike your punk hare.
an amazing post — on many levels —
That’s what ya get here on AMAZING MONDAYS, LouAnn. Thank you – on many levels!!
“By degrees, delusional by chance or choice, now everyone is a little crazy. It’s the new norm,” and “There is no such thing as a perfect family,” are statements that loom larger each day You know.– The older I get… The blogging world has been an eye-opener. I’ve been shocked and saddened by posts which have also made me realize I’m not alone. Now I’m in the world of “The Knowing”. Perhaps that’s why I love sci fi and fantasy fiction so much. It allows me to disappear.
Honie,(Stephanie was my mother’s name!) those rabbits, especially the Gothic Hare, are really disturbing! I have the feeling “Beyond Belief” will be a good one. Damn. The cover is sure creepy.
He Who (offers wicked good observations) how right you are, you are not alone. I think this is what makes us seek out the disturbing, allowing us to disappear, if only briefly. The number of “The Knowing” is growing and growing. I’m reminded of a poem by Roald Dahl.
The Rowing Song
Round the world and home again
That’s the sailor’s way
Faster faster, faster faster
There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
Or which way the river’s flowing
Is it raining, is it snowing
Is a hurricane a–blowing
Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a–glowing
Is the grisly reaper mowing
Yes, the danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing.
Of course, there are those who choose to row, row, row their boats gently down the stream. I haven’t ever been one of them. I don’t know why. Probably genetic.
How about that, your mother’s name is Stephanie! 😉