This Is My Brave

Life is good. Fuck you.

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Another day, another article surfaced on my feed about a parent trying to help others be aware of mental illness.

I’m so over it.

But that’s just how I feel today.

I’m sure tomorrow I’ll feel differently.

And I’m sure I’ll feel a million different ways over the course of the next year.

Today, though, I can afford to feel so over it because I’m feeling good.  Today my brain is cooperating and I’m ‘even’ – in terms of my ability to handle life’s combination of little and big disruptions.

Today I can focus and finish my deadlines.

Today I can think of ideas and write them down and follow through.

Today I can help other people. I have enough time and energy to do things for others.

Today I’m good.

But there will be another tomorrow in my life soon when I won’t be so good.

Unless my life is about to take a sudden turn away from its normal routine, there will soon be a day when my brain tells me that today is the day I need to end it.

Because that’s what my brain does.

My brain tells me to kill myself.

My brain tells me that killing myself is what I’m supposed to, what I’m fated to, and that everything is a sign that it’s time.

It’s what I got in this life.

Some people got diabetes. Some got heart disease. Some got cancer.

I got a bad brain.

I know, I know….you know of something I should try. I know.

Well, I’ve probably tried it.

I’ve been around the block and I’ve been dealing with this since I was a kid.

Add to that the fact that I’m a ‘fixer’ by nature.  I do something about problems. I take steps. I take action. I take initiative. 

Believe me….if it’s medical, I’ve tried it.

And I don’t just mean I’ve dabbled.

I mean I have devoted years to trying everything out there and doing everything in my power to help things work.

I have given everything I’ve tried a good and meaningful try.

If it’s western I’ve tried it. If it’s eastern, I’ve tried it.

Expensive? Tried it. Cheap? Tried it. Free? Tried it.

If it’s holistic, I’ve tried it.

If it’s spiritual, I’ve tried it.

If it’s hokey or trendy or popular or weird, I’ve tried it.

So, what’s my point today?

My point is shut the hell up if you have no personal experience with suicidal thinking.

I made the mistake of reading some comments to the devastated father who wrote so honestly, lovingly and bravely about his daughter who lost her battle with suicide.

And seriously, people need to shut the fuck up.

If you haven’t lived it, your opinion is shit.

I don’t care how enlightened you are, how educated you are or how inspired you are.

Just shut up.

And fuck you.

I know this post is negative.

I’m really sorry about that.

I’m not a negative person.

I’m positive. And hopeful. And productive. 

I’m funny and energetic and upbeat about some things.

I work full time.  And I have two syndicated properties, a cartoon and a comic strip.

I paint beautiful paintings. And I make lots of really great contributions that help others.

And, in addition to all of the great things I am, I live with a condition –  just like most people live with a condition of some sort.

Unfortunately, my condition is the opposite of “life is good” – 

But I’m dealing with it.

I’m managing it.

But it needs to be said that someday I might follow through on what my brain tells me to do.  

My brain is powerful and inflexible at times and more convincing than the people around me.

And if I do what my brain tells me to do, it won’t be for any other reason than what I was able to do to manage my condition was not enough.

So to the reader who shared a particularly unhelpful comment, fuck you.

Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

You’re not helpful. And you’re not smart.

You wrote something hurtful to a father in pain. And what you wrote sounded like a dare to people who don’t need to be dared. 

Look, sir….I’m not asking you to change who you are.

I’m just asking you to DO NO HARM.

You can do that by keeping your mouth shut and keeping your typing to yourself. 

And to the father who wrote the essay, thank you and I am so very, very, very sorry.

Now back to work for me….because although I live with suicidal thinking, that is just part of my day. And it’s not the part that pays the bills. 

xoxo, d

 

 

 

This is My Brave

Meet DC-cast member Donna Lewis

Today we get to know Donna Lewis, DC-area attorney and cartoonist, and member of our This Is My Brave cast!

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Well, I live and work in Washington, DC.

During the day I work as a lawyer – doing work that’s fascinating to me and boring to everyone else. At night, I write and draw a comic strip and a cartoon, both of which are syndicated by the Washington Post News Service and Syndicate.

The rest of the time I spend running, hiking, biking, painting, drawing, writing and seeing the people I love.

And drinking coffee.

And thinking about drinking coffee.

How has mental illness affected your life?

Mental illness is my life.

I don’t mean that in the bad way it sounds.

I just mean that I’ve been so affected by mental illness and that my passion truly lies in finding new ways to make living with mental illness easier, making resources more accessible, and making treatment more effective.

I’ve seen the toll mental illness takes on a family, a workplace, a community – and on my own ability to live effectively.

And I just don’t think it should be this hard.

Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?

I want to be a part of This is my Brave. so that I can give back a gift I got years ago.

Twenty years ago, when I found myself at one of my lower points – without hope and desperate for a sign that life could be better – I found the books of Kay Redfield Jamison.

And Dr. Jamison reminded me of me.

Dr. Jamison was smart, disciplined and dedicated.

She had not only made a career for herself, but she had become successful in her field.  Dr. Jamison was widely reputed to be competent and capable – despite her having been open about her experiences with mental illness.

Reading her honest writing gave me that little bit of hope I needed to keep moving forward.

She was the one person whose story said to me “If she can do it, you can do it.”

And now I want to pass that hope along to somebody else who needs it.

Hopeful is not something I feel often because of my hardwired brain, but I can share hope by example.

What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?

I hate this question because my brain is really messed up and keeps telling me bad things.

I wish I could say I stay healthy for God, my family, my friends, my animals or for the possibility of a wonderful future, but that’s just not something my brain would ever agree with.

My brain is unreliable in terms of messaging so I’ve given up on needing inspiration.

Basically, I just rely on having a really good schedule. And a great routine. And lots of deadlines.

I have projects and passions and people I love.

And I make sure to keep promising things to them because I tend to get along better when I have promises to keep.

 

 

Every day, I do the things that keep me healthy.

I eat healthy. I get good sleep. I get outside.

I get my heart rate up. I move around. I bend a lot.

I sit. I breathe.

I keep my machine well-oiled.

I also do things for other people.

And I avoid stressors as much as I can given the fact that you can’t avoid stress completely.

I do everything possible to make sure I can work and create as long as possible – because I love working and creating beautiful things.

And, despite a brain that just keeps producing really awful thoughts, I think I can help to make this world a little bit better.

What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?

Learn how to listen effectively.

Learn how to help someone effectively.

We cannot avoid many of the conditions we live with, but nobody should live in greater pain than is absolutely necessary. 

Help others lessen the pain.

Not Quite So Brave

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Thank you to the folks at This is my Brave for casting me in their 2016 DC show!

I am honored. And a little bit nervous because I don’t really like performing.

Maybe next year I can convince these folks to do stand up. Now THAT would be fun.

At least for me.

So, I’m supposed to answer a few questions for This is my Brave.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Well, I live and work in Washington, DC. During the day I work as a lawyer – doing work that’s fascinating to me and boring to everyone else.
At night, I write and draw a comic strip and a cartoon, both of which are syndicated by the Washington Post News Service and Syndicate.

The rest of the time I spend running, hiking, biking, painting, drawing, writing and seeing the people I love.

And drinking coffee.

And thinking about drinking coffee.

2. How has mental illness affected your life?

Mental illness is my life.

I don’t mean that in the bad way it sounds.

I just mean that I’ve been so affected by mental illness, personally and professional. And that my passion truly lies in finding new ways to make living with mental illness easier, making resources more accessible, and making treatment more effective.

I’ve seen the toll mental illness takes on a family, a workplace, a community – and on my own ability to live effectively.

And I just don’t think it should be this hard.

3. Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?

I want to be a part of This is my Brave. so that I can give back a gift I got years ago.

Twenty years ago, when I found myself at one of my lower points – without hope and desperate for a sign that life could be better – I found the books of Kay Redfield Jamison.

And Dr. Jamison reminded me of me.

Dr. Jamison was smart, disciplined and dedicated.  She had not only made a career for herself, but she had become successful in her field.  Dr. Jamison was widely reputed to be competent and capable – despite her having been open about her experiences with mental illness.

Reading her honest writing gave me that little bit of hope I needed to keep moving forward. She was the one person whose story said to me “If she can do it, you can do it.”

And now I want to pass that hope along to somebody else who needs it.

Hopeful is not something I feel often because of my hardwired brain, but I can share hope by example.

4. What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?

I hate this question because my brain is really messed up and keeps telling me bad things.

I wish I could say I stay healthy for God, my family, my friends, my animals or for the possibility of a wonderful future, but that’s just not something my brain would ever agree with.

My brain is unreliable in terms of messaging so I’ve given up on needing inspiration.

Basically, I just rely on having a really good schedule. And a great routine. And lots of deadlines.

I have projects and passions and people I love.  And I make sure to keep promising things to them because I tend to get along better when I have promises to keep.

Every day, I do the things that keep me healthy.

I eat healthy. I get good sleep. I get outside. I get my heart rate up. I move around. I bend a lot. I sit.  I breathe.

I keep my machine well-oiled.

I also do things for other people.

And I avoid stressors as much as I can given the fact that you can’t avoid stress completely.

I do everything possible to make sure I can work and create as long as possible – because I love working and creating beautiful things.

And, despite a brain that just keeps producing really awful thoughts, I think I can help to make this world a little bit better.

4. What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?

Learn how to listen effectively.

Learn how to help someone effectively.

We cannot avoid many of the conditions we live with, but nobody should have to live in greater pain than is absolutely necessary.  Now when we have so many resources and so much awareness and so many ways to help.

Learn how to help others lessen the pain.

xoxoxo, d