exactly that

Posts tagged ‘mental illness’

In Spite Of…

There have been some things eating at me since I made this post yesterday. Something about the pushback against some of the things I said when writing it have been sitting wrong with. Not for the simple matter of disagreement, because certainly there is plenty of that going on, and I had one of the best discussions on the topic late last night while mulling this over.

No. The thing that is niggling at the back of my mind, and the left, front, and center of it too, is this pushback against the idea that we aren’t supposed to love and otherwise care for people with mental illness and disability in spite of said disabilities, or illnesses, or anything else.

Anders, a blond, pale, man in green robes with feathered pauldrons and a mages' staff, looks into the camera (so to speak) while Justice manifests as blue flashes and glowing eyes.

See? A perfect parallel! Mental illness always manifests so obviously.



30-Day Challenge: Day 5 — Least Favorite Love Interest

I was going to pick Alistair, but magesmagesmages already did such a fantastic takedown of that one, that I would only be rehashing what she already brilliantly said.

A pale blond man in green robes clutches his head.

I will have to go with Anders, and I say this as a person who almost can NOT resist clicking that little heart icon every time it pops up. I have completed the Anders romance more times that I have completed the others combined.

My issues with the Anders Romance have almost nothing to do with Anders as a character, his actions, or how I feel about him in-game at all. Once again my criticism comes down to mostly writing and game mechanics. (more…)

You Will Buy Your Mothers Lunch

Sailors in dress white uniforms raise the Colors on a bright day. In the background is seen houses and a brown structure, and grass.“You will buy your mothers lunch” the cocky Boatswain’s Mate (you pronounce it “bo’sun’s mate”. The Navy likes to spell things with all kinds of extra letters. I could name parts of a ship for you sometime, like forecastle. Not like it looks.) said to us as we practiced for graduation. He was a right pompous arse, and I’ve known few boatswain’s mates to be much different. I think it is a class they take at “A” school. But being in the position I was in, what choice did I have but to listen to him?

This was a man who, during our graduation rehearsal routine took upon himself the role of Navy Chaplain and pretended to lead us in opening prayer, which was, to him “Dear Lord, thank you for creating Boatswain’s Mates. Amen“. He also came to our compartment in our ship, as many did on their watch, because their hatred of “900” divisions couldn’t keep them from trying to find a fault that was so grievous that they could tear us all from our racks to drop us. He came to our compartment on many an occasion to make sure to tell us that one day, we could be sure, that he was going to be Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, or MCPON (mihk-pawn). Though, to this day I see he hasn’t achieved that goal. For all of his pomp and circumstance, I am going to go out on a limb and say that roughing up Boots (Navy recruits) might be his greatest achievement, and that isn’t saying a ton.

But what stuck out most in my mind was his moralizing about how we had to, on our Liberty Weekend (the weekend we had of “freedom” with our families after graduation but before heading off to “A” school) make sure to take our mothers out to a nice meal and pay for it. This was, of course, because certainly we all had money coming out of our ears and certainly that all of our mothers came to our graduations and we all had deep affection for them.

This man, who, in this snapshot I had of him, left the most bitter of tastes in my mouth, sums up my feelings of society’s expectation about family. Also, I now have a prejudice about boatswain’s mates, but wev. The act of ejecting a human out of your womb exacted a promise that said human would love said person who did ejecting no matter what that person did to that human, no matter what. In his mind, your mother was to be loved and adored and adorned with free meals simply for giving you life and the opportunity to endure his abuse here at Boot Camp. Even if you have spent some time having your head beat against a refrigerator by her. But that never entered his mind. The aftermath of abuse that might build into some type of mental illness that lingers… well. I guess that is not for the Good Boatswain’s Mate to ever consider.

Also, it seemed that every new Sailor was a single sailor who had piles of money lying around in the bank waiting to be spent on your graduation attendees. I mean, who comes to Boot Camp with a baby at home, or some deadbeat spouse gambling it away and not paying your bills?

And if I may, did anyone ever consider that after almost three months of having the crap beat out of us daily and withstanding the emotional abuse that is Boot Camp (why, yes, it is) that someone treat us to a congratulatory meal or something? No? I didn’t think so either, but fuck if I didn’t enjoy those damned IHOP crepes. Real. Food.

You are not required to love a person because someone somewhere insists that a bond is instantly forged by DNA. DNA doesn’t erase past deeds. Or the hurt that can be left churning in a mind that is left dealing with the hurt.

That Boatswain’s Mate was the representation of everything I found wrong with societal expectations. A privileged man placing his perspective on us, shoving his demands upon us, no matter what.

Some day, perhaps I will see his face hanging in the hallway of a Navy building, next to the other leaders of the Navy. His smug smile looking out at me, and I will, for once, be relieved that he will have no direct sway over my life, no matter how clever he finds himself. But I will also remember how he made me feel, as if I failed because I couldn’t live up to what he demanded of me that day as we practiced for graduation, even as the ceremony stood to begin and end on my own command.

Photo Credit: Marion Doss*

*I used to live there! If you read the photo description at the Flickr page, it tells you that it is the opening of Naval Special Warfare compound at Pearl City. In the background of the photo you can see some of the houses at the Pearl City Peninsula housing in Pearl City, Hawai’i. In the mornings when I would get ready for work I could watch the members of SEAL Team One do their PT (physical training) as they ran past my house. I’ve lived in worse places. I think I can even spot my house. Maybe. Ha.

When She Was Bad

When Buffy Season 1 ended with “Prophecy Girl” we saw a lot of things happen.

The Hellmouth actually opened, for the first of what will be many times (I really hope that isn’t too much of a spoiler for many of you), Cordelia drove her car through the school, and Buffy faced The Master and died. For a minute or two (Hey! It’s TV!).

Also through the miracle of TV, Xander (who can never do what he is told, ever, and it always works out to a convenient plot device) and Angel showed up just in time to revive her and send her on her way to be the prettiest Not Zombie ever (that was The Guy’s thing, OK).

So when Season 2 picks up and Buffy is returning from a summer with her dad we have a whole new Slayer who comes back as a whole new, shall we say, snarkier Buffy with a better haircut.

So here’s the part where Joss is gonna get some shit from me: Buffy is so incredibly obviously dealing with Some Issues. She is having flashbacks while training. She is having some really shit-tastic nighmares where Giles tries to choke her to death while her best friends watch, Giles actually being The Master in a Giles mask. To me the most disturbing part of the dream is that Buffy dreams that her friends are asking how she is doing… something that isn’t happening in real life, and that in a way she dreams that Giles allowed her to die, which I think she might actually believe…

So she is lashing out at her friends. Full scale snark at Xander and Willow and Giles. She mocks Willow —  something she dropped Cordelia faster than Kid drops food under the table on a clean floor for doing. She pulls Xander out onto the dance floor at The Bronze and proceeds to do what was henceforth known as her “sexydance” that made both Angel and Willow jealous. In fact, if you mention Season 2 Ep. 1 “When She Was Bad” to some vaguely familiar with Buffy, the first thing they remember is “sexydance”. She romps about with a new personae that manages to get Cordelia to pull her aside and ask if she was running for “Bitch of the Year”.

If Cordelia is up in your shit about your “Joan Collins ‘tude”, then it is time for a deep inward assessment.

But what no one did was try to actually talk to Buffy, which is what bothered me about the writing of this episode.

See, Buffy died, and I am pretty sure that upset her a bit. I know it might peeve me a bit, if I was 16 and had to deal with that. That might have been something she had to work through a bit, the way she felt about dying. So, instead of anyone talking to her about how that felt, Joss wrote everyone doing the logical thing and talking about her. Instead, it kind of felt like her friends just … got annoyed with her and didn’t try to understand what she was dealing with. Sure, Buffy was behaving in all the wrong ways, but her friends weren’t exactly the pillars of strength she needed to get through her situation, either. But, of course we will see that this becomes a theme.

The only person who tries to reach out to her is Angel, the one person most closely associated with the thing that has caused all of this pain, and the one person most likely to elicit the most harsh reaction from Buffy. She brushes him off, is harsh with him, even though we see peeks of her emotionally reaching out to him at the same time (cue heart wrenching music to imply the Cosmically Forbidden Relationship)… Angel is the personification of all that went wrong with her life. The Slaying, the Vampires, and ultimately death. He couldn’t even save her life before or after her death…

The harsh reality of the weight of her responsibility, the painful truth that even her life is fragile hangs on her weary shoulders even as life doesn’t stop to allow her to mourn her own death. Buffy is obviously angry, hurting, and possibly confused about her future. We see this theme again throughout the series, as she has to decide if she should bother planning a future in her life: career, love, even just graduating or getting through tomorrow. The fragility of her role in the world crashed into her path of vision, and she had to face that in the 60 seconds of clinical death (and later with the appearance of another Chosen One).

This stings close to home for people who deal with real life depression, over loss in their lives, or any of the other reasons that mental illness comes crashing down or tries to suffocate us. Often, the people around us give up trying to support us, and withdraw, leaving us to lash out or sometimes give up.

Perhaps Joss didn’t fail as much as I first said.

Perhaps, in Buffy, he has attempted to personify the utter helplessness and angst that people in a deep depression sometimes feel. Perhaps, he has done a perfect job of showing what it feels like to not be able to yell out exactly what is going on inside, how it feels to have suffered what you have suffered because no one really can truly empathize, no one can truly feel your pain


If only defeating your demons was as simple as smashing a set of bones with a giant mallet.

The Importance of Being Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix Lestrange, as portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter, a pale woman with a mop of dark, thick curly hair lightly tinged with strands of grey, smirking devilishly in a black dress with white embroidery, pointing her wand at her own face.It is odd the way that The Guy and I have these conversations…or maybe it is a sign that we watch our Harry Potter movies too much, but one night while viewing HPatHBP for appoximately the nonillionth time I turned to him during the Unbreakable Vow scene at Spinner’s End, and began the following thought train (all quotes should be presumed to be “air quotes”):

Me: You know, all of Snape and Dumbledore’s plans would have been shot if anyone at all would have listened to Bellatrix.

The Guy: No kidding! She never trusted Snape. Look at how she taunts him!

Me: It’s because everyone dismisses her as just being “insane”, you know.

The Guy: Because she was in Azkaban, you know, and it has “driven her mad”, so she obviously doesn’t know what she is talking about.

Me: Obviously.

See, I am not in anyway advocating for Team Voldemort or something. There is a great discussion on racism that can be had about the antics of the Death Eaters (and the dynamics of having that point made from a primarily White PoV) in another post, but more interestingly to me right now in this particular post is that Bellatrix was completely right in her mistrust of Severus Snape and his position beside Lord Voldemort. Her feelings go much deeper than mere jealousy (but why shouldn’t she be jealous, since she alone stood proudly, unafraid of the consequences of supporting Voldemort when others did not?) to a practical mistrust of someone who seemed to benefit all to much from a convenient and literal get out of jail free card.

We know that Bellatrix was described as having a personality that bordered on displaying psychopathic tendencies* (from a lay perspective), in that she showed little to no conscience. We know that her cold and callousness was often played up if for no other reason than to reinforce that Bellatrix was someone who was a little unbalanced. Her pride in being a “pure blood” was over the top to a “normal” person, and we are to presume that no rational person would behave the way that she would. So, no rational person would honestly believe that anyone would dare betray the Dark Lord. She goads people with baby talk and laughs at inappropriate times which all adds to the image of the mentally unstable woman who just can’t be taken seriously, but is tolerated for whatever reasons (in Bellatrix’ case, it is more than likely her undeniable talent and power. Even Death Eaters can’t look that gift horse in the mouth, mental illness or no!).

I am not a doctor, nor anyone qualified to make medical opinions about the fictional personality of Bellatrix Lestrange, but I do know that often in real life people who have mental illness, to any degree, are in fact taken less seriously than those who do not. They are dismissed in everyday goings on, dismissed when it comes to their own medical care, told they shouldn’t have children, told they are not suitable parents if they do already, and when they leave the room you had best believe that people snicker that “poor crazy Bellatrix is raving again”… The importance of Bellatrix Lestrange is that she represents real people…real women who exist — whether intentional on the part of J.K. Rowling or no — who have valid concerns in the world, and who can not get their voices heard because their mental illness (or any disability) creates a barrier between what they say and what others are willing to hear.

So J.K. was free to write this character, whose madness and temper were often mirrored in her own cousin, Sirius Black (interesting, no?), who could go on and on at will about Severus and how he was not to be trusted, how he was really going to betray the Dark Lord. Severus was able to rest easy through her rantings, knowing full well that no one was going to believe her, that his triple agent status was going to remain unscathed, because, after all, who would ever believe a crazy person, right? Voldemort might have been better served had someone actually listened to her.

But no one did.

Interesting, that.

I mean, I guess it is a good thing, both for Harry himself, and for the sales of books five through seven or so and the corresponding movies, since the story might have stopped cold had any of that happened. Something to consider, I suppose.

Oh, how I do love discussing Harry Potter.

*These descriptions I take mostly from the Harry Potter wiki.

Photo: The Harry Potter wiki

Cross Posted at FWD/Forward

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