The Maelstrom of the Broken-hearted Teen

There is a video circulating of a school police officer (why? why is this a thing?) tearing a young woman out of her desk.

We are horrified (I hope.) Some of the old standbys have been dragged out. What happened before? What did she do to deserve it?

I can not even care.

The story comes out, in bits and pieces, the way things do on the internet. It’s like putting together a puzzle without the box. It won’t make sense until all the pieces are fitted into place.

The newest pieces, though, broke my heart.

She is in care.

As and adult, I look around at my life. I see my home, my love, my job, my stability. I imagine it all gone. If the worst thing I were to do is be on my phone at an inopportune time? That’s entirely reasonable.

My empathy runs over.

My family sent me away. They cut me out. I ended up in care. I lived in a group home with 4 other girls.

I fell completely apart. I was self destructive. I was angry. I was probably pretty fucking frustrating. Because I was vulnerable, I was re-victimized by people who saw my instability as opportunity.

I may have looked defiant or even completely normal (amazingly few folks knew when I was homeless) but I was not.

I was a maelstrom and I deserved to be.

I am glad there were no police officers in my school. I appreciate that the colour of my skin kept me safer. I know that teachers who showed compassion rather than strict adherence to structures not build for broken-hearted teens saved me a similar fate.

I worry for her. I worry because the piling on of tragedy can set a pattern in motion that is hard to pull out of. I worry because she is experiencing in public what I was fortunate enough to experience in private. I worry because we treat people’s lives like fiction. This is not fiction. It is not okay. It is her reality and that reality is more common than you know.

Dear broken-hearted teens – I am sorry. I am sorry we treat you like anything less than a human in need. I am sorry we do not have empathy, that we do not have resources, that we do not see you.

I am so, so sorry.


Outside In: Cookie Monster Edition

I feel like I need to fill in a lot of blanks here. In case you’re new to this, my name is Heather. I am a writer (in that I write, not that I am widely published.) I work in arts and culture. I have a mental illness. I am also short, but that makes for far less interesting blogs. Besides, I’ve dealt with the challenge of my shortness. I am not shy about asking strangers to reach my canned goods in the grocery store.

Every year, around this time, I face the more serious challenge of seasonal depression. It’s not a massive change from good old regular depression, but it’s more intense and, when I try to tango with both at once, I usually trip over all the feet.

I fall down, is what I’m saying.

This year, I’m being proactive about it all. I have a list of things I know might boost my mood. I give myself a stamp every time I do one of those things. Seven stamps in any one column and I get a treat. It’s a bit pavlovian, but lest we forget, he was a Nobel Prize winning scientist, not just a guy who ran goofy tests on puppies. He made some really terrific discoveries about how we train our brains and…

None of that really matters because when it comes to my brain, I do what works.

As to what works, well, it’s a pretty short list at present. Knowing that, I’ve taken a sort of low-key poll to find out what others do to boost their mood. My goal is to try them all and see what I can add to my list.

The first one I tried was the simplest. I watched a video on You Tube.

This video:

It made me smile, which is something. In fact, it makes me smile every time I watch it. It does not seem to be getting any less sweet. Even better,though, is the comment that came along with it:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.56.11 AM

There’s a lot going on here. I’m asking for help (and not just to reach the cream corn.) I’m being heard. Someone is sharing what matters to them. They’re teaching me a bit about keeping my eyes open for the good stuff happening around me.

Whether or not this video gets added to my go-to list of mood ticklers remains to be seen. But Sara’s advice, to look for the bits of the world in which people are being good to each other? That I’ll try to do more of. And if that fails, I’ll try the Patton Oswald solution:

Picture 2

Take that depression.

(Also, if you were wondering what you get if you google Crime and Punishment and Cookie Monster, wonder no more. It is this:


A truly tragic tale where Rashkalnicookie tries to justify his cookie theft by explaining that those with a natural inclination to steal cookies are, in fact, right to steal them. He is eventually convinced by a loving Prairie Dawn that he must confess his crimes. He is exiled to public television, but their love pulls him through.)

Happy From The Outside In

Silence is golden. I swear I’ve heard a song that says that…

I fell silent. If you’re new to my blog, this is probably a good time to tell you I have a mood disorder and ADHD, so that’s going to happen from time to time.

If you’d like an idea when it’s apt to happen, two sure markers are the coming of winter and a really successful blog entry. I’ve recently seen both. It snowed last week. (I’m sorry Canada. I just cant.) Also, I wrote about my experiences growing up in a cultishly Christian household. I did this as part of a reflection on the life of Kim Davis, a woman who has beliefs that she holds dearly that she’d really like to impose on other folks. It seemed to resonate, and it was widely read. Being read scares me, which might make you wonder why I write at all. As a wise man once said: Don’t ask me why I write. Ask me why I cannot stop.

Now I’m in what Garfield liked to call a deep blue funk, but I’m doing what I can to pull my way out. I’m trying something new. I’m going from the outside, in.

Clap along if you feel kinda meh about life in general...

Clap along if you feel kinda meh about life in general…

I’ve spent 20+ years in some sort of therapy or another. That happens when you’re a teenager and you’re in the system. I’ve been therapized, de-sensitized, exorcised (literally) and medicated. I’ve tried really hard to fix what I didn’t break.

It hasn’t worked (I’m functioning – I’m resilient – but I’m not happy.) My new plan? Mend it the way it was busted: from the outside, in.

My plan is to try to treat myself just as well as the folks who mistreated me treated me poorly. It’s a tall order, but I’d like to think I’m up to it. In that spirit, if there’s anything you do that makes you feel like a million smiles (bucks are over-rated and in short supply) let me know below. My plan is to try them all. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’ve spent years trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. Time to figure out what makes me happy.