A Regular Forrest Gump Over Here

Yesterday was beautiful—sunny and around 50 degrees. I knew that rain and snow were headed our way for today, so I made sure to get my run in yesterday when the weather was perfect. I intended to go out for about 45 minutes or so and just get in a decent run. I ended up running for 2 hours straight. I just kept going and going. It was really like I was purging something. Like all the sorrow and frustration that I’ve been experiencing lately about my life and my friendships needed to find some way out of me and this was the only way I knew how to get rid of it.

Needless to say, my hamstrings are pretty upset about it today.

And then suddenly it’s better

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Sometimes you go to bed feeling like your life has let you down. Everyone is happy, but you’re not. Everyone’s at peace, but you are restless. Everyone can sleep, but your eyes are wide open, staring off into the graying light of your bedroom. Sometimes you go to bed feeling like it would be okay, you don’t mind, if you never woke up.

But sometimes morning comes and the sun is shining. You awake feeling refreshed, lighter, more at ease than you’ve felt in weeks, months. Come to think of it, can you remember ever feeling quite this way? There’s fresh fruit in the refrigerator. There’s already coffee brewing. There’s a sense that maybe today everything will work out okay. Sometimes morning comes and you remember that there’s always a chance to start over, to begin each day fresh and new. And everything feels fine. Not perfect. Not fixed. But better. And that’s good enough. That’s a start.

Stop Using “Crazy” As A Comfort

A lot has been said these past few days in reaction to the Sandy Hook school shooting. For the most part, I have kept my mouth shut and tried to simply take in what everyone else has to say. I am not expressly qualified to comment on this type of tragedy or the broader political and cultural implications at play. But after several days of reading every article I can get my hands on and listening to passionately (if not always articulately) expressed opinions from both ends of the political spectrum, there is one thing I feel I must say: do not make this a conversation about mental illness in America. Don’t get me wrong, that is a conversation we must have. It’s a conversation that we should have been having for years now. A conversation that we should have every year, every day, really. Discussion of mental health and the treatment of our mentally ill should occur the way discussions of general health occur: openly and often and encompassing all manner of past and current concerns, treatment recommendations and implications for both national and global public health. We should be talking about mental illness in this country, regularly, perpetually. And as part of that broader conversation, we should discuss the point where mental illness and gun control intersect. But we cannot turn Sandy Hook, or Aurora, or Virginia Tech or any of the other many, many mass shootings into conversations about mental illness alone.

The mentally ill are not your boogeymen. You cannot just suddenly care about mental health every time there is a discussion about limiting access to deadly firearms. The number of Americans who suffer from mental illness is fairly staggering, but the majority of them, the vast majority of us, will not commit an act of violence during our lifetimes. The vast majority of mental health sufferers do not harbor violent thoughts. We do not have blood lust. We don’t spend time pondering what it might feel like to shoot another living being. As a group, the mentally ill are not inherently more dangerous than any other group. Certainly not moreso than a group that regularly shouts at the top of their lungs about their right to own objects that can quickly and efficiently kill other people.

So please, let us not wrap ourselves in the comforting notion that crazy people exist and if we simply focus on controlling them, tragedies like this will become sad distant memories instead of regular occurrences. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to have a serious and purposeful discussion about mental health and illness in this nation. I would love that. But you don’t get to use that conversation as way to deflect from the equally important discussion about gun control. Mental health and illness are complex systems. There is no easy measure for predicting violence. There is no surefire sign or signal that we can point to as an individual’s tipping point for violent behavior. “Better care for our mentally ill” is not some simple, quick fix solution that gun enthusiasts are making it out to be. You know what would be easier? Outlawing access to semiautomatic weapons and significantly limiting overall access to guns. Let’s have that discussion. Let’s talk seriously about gun control.

You don’t get to turn mental illness into the bad guy. Not when everyone knows that every bad guy needs a weapon. Yes, people kill people. And guns allow them to do it more quickly and in far greater numbers. So let’s have that conversation. I’m all ears.

On Looking Good While Feeling Bad

I look better when I’m depressed. Softer in appearance. Almost beautiful, really. I am muted and subtle, more natural in a quiet, almost mysterious way. There’s something about my eyes when I’ve retreated fully within myself. I pull back from the world, and despair washes over my features, painting them in confidence and resolve. I look self-assured, knowing. But the truth is I know nothing. My appearance seems effortless, carefree. But the reality is I’m simply too tired to care, too withdrawn from the world around me to bother with carefully applied makeup and thoughtful attire. It softens me, though. Removes any air of self-consciousness that conspicuously reads as trying too hard.

It’s the time of year when people start feeling good. The sun comes out more frequently, stays out longer. The cold bite of winter is slowly beginning to fade, as spring comes creeping in, breezy and fresh and smelling of new, wet earth. But I always have trouble when the seasons begin to turn. Always feel a bit dragged down by the knowledge that time marches steadily on, and I am no better prepared than I was yesterday, or the day before.

The park is full of happy joggers, children laughing and playing on the swing sets and jungle gyms, couples strolling lazily hand in hand. And I am the woman standing at the top of a hill, watching everyone live and move joyously around her.

At home, I look in the mirror and think, “I look prettier than usual,” because my eyes are like dark, deep pools reaching way back through time, filling with all the pain and frustration of seasons come and gone, of time that has melted away like winter snow. I see everything, feel almost nothing, and am somehow liberated by this lack of balance.

I look better when I’m depressed, because I don’t care how I look at all.