Washington Post News Service & Syndicate

It’s Monday morning. How many activities have you been “volunteered” for so far? 

Source: Reply All by Donna A. Lewis, September 19, 2016 Via @GoComics

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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

 

 

 

So many words. So few words.

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My friend Richard Thompson died yesterday.

Steven George Artley's photo.

 

Richard had been suffering with Parkinson’s Disease for years. The past few years had been as awful as you can imagine. Richard’s body was twisted and turned and frozen into contortions you can only imagine if you’ve seen them before.

I want to write about Richard, but it’s too soon.  Richard was special to the world and special to me and that kind of description requires careful thought and even more careful writing.

But this is just a blog.

This is just where I go to share things I hope will help others….or, in many cases, help me.

The journey to the end with Richard has been a mish mash of extreme emotions and more emotions piled on top.  From anger and more anger to frustration, resignation and pure sadness, each trip to Richard’s house has been a reminder that life sucks.

I’m sure another person could write that same sentence and end up with life being beautiful – and I know life is beautiful – but it sucks. At least sometimes.

I became part of the cartooning community in 2010.  I worked on the comic strip that ended up being published for a year while it was either officially or unofficially in development with the syndicate.

During that year, I became fast friends – more like sisters – with my wonderful (understatement!!!) editor, Amy Lago.


And, after the strip began publication,  I met a lovely cadre of local, long-distance and international cartoonists who were SO DAMN DIFFERENT than the lawyers I was used to and with whom I was comfortable.

When I first entered the cartooning world, I was still entrenched in a day job related to law and disability.

Disability was familiar territory for me since I had practiced disability law for two decades and worked in the field for longer than that.  I was confident of my perspectives, opinions and judgments as they related to disability issues.

Contrast that with the world of cartooning where I felt like the odd man out.

I loved the other cartoonists and believe many of them liked and/or loved me too.

But the other cartoonists were real artists, most having worked in or been trained in drawing. I had never taken a class or read a book on art. I knew nothing.

And there I was, learning to draw little by little.  I was starting from scratch. My cartoon had become syndicated not for its pitiful sketches, but for the writing.  I knew how to write.

When I met Richard for the first time, my confidence was at an all time artist low. I couldn’t draw and the process of learning – while my work was being published – was S.L.O.W.

I met Richard at Baltimore Comic Con, introduced by the lovely Mike Rhode.  In short order I met Chris Sparks and Nicky G and Bono and Amy T. (the other Amy) and a host of other sexy, smart, unceasingly silly clowns.  I got pulled into that world and gladly accepted the seat that was always saved for me.

    

 

And then, of course, Rudy, the Pill Whisperer, came along…and, well, let’s just say Rudy and RT should have had a reality show.

Let’s just say it would have been très real.

More on Rudy later.

Richard reminded me of so many of the men I had been in love with over the years. Wicked smart and equally stubborn and ridiculously cute.  I remember meeting Richard and thinking immediately that I would have dated him in a different lifetime.

There were so many things I wanted to say to Richard, but we were never alone long enough to talk.

And talking to Richard was laborious.

Richard lost his ability to speak easily early on.

Waiting for his slow whispers meant deep conversation was halted, at best.

Plus, there were always caregivers and friends and family around whenever I was with Richard and so I could only play the part of visitor, friend and random entertainment-provider.

So I just brought food.

Cause everyone likes the person who brings food.

But I really wanted to talk to Richard.

I wanted to tell Richard that I understood what he was going through more than he knew….even though, of course, I couldn’t really know.

I wanted to ask him what he wanted most of all and tell him he could have anything he wanted…that we would try to make anything he wanted happen.

I wanted to know if he could hang in there long enough to be showered with our love, respect and friendship.

I wanted to tell him that I would have traded places with him in a second so that he could live the life he loved and I could finally be helpful in a meaningful way.

There is so much to say about Richard and the importance of our friendship.

I can’t say it yet.

I’m just too sad.

And I’m working hard to not let the way-too-early deaths of two cartoon world friends in one week mess too much with my head.

I don’t understand death, but I don’t want to fight it.

Perhaps more cogently articulated, I don’t understand how to live life joyfully while accepting the inevitability of death.

Perhaps I just haven’t found the right book to explain it to me.

I wish I had been able to tell Richard more often, more loudly, more assertively and more insistently that his life changed mine in important ways.

But we were never alone enough for that kind of conversation.

But it did.

His life changed mine.

In important and lovely and cruel ways.

And I hope to hell he’s running around (even though he’s not really the running around kind) in heaven, free from his body on earth and free of pain.  I hope he’s eating everything in sight and laughing, laughing, laughing.

I hope the library in Heaven is really excellent and that they give him the old fashioned kind of library card, not a fingerprint or chip-driven card.

 

Bono Mitchell's photo.

I hope he’s happy in amounts outnumbering the immense amounts of happiness he gave to others.

I am sad in those amounts.

I miss you, RT.

xoxoxo, d

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chewing Gum and Good Drivers

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Snacks and productivity. Well, D.U.H.

More on snacks later.

As for productivity, well…..whatever.

More Reply All Comic at Go Comics!

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Now hop on over to the Getting to Six podcast and listen to the wondrous wisdom and observations of Tim Kenney.  He’s fascinating. And a really great guy.

We love him.

Then listen to Dr. Drew and Bob Forrest on This Life. Specifically go to Episode 37 where they talk about borderline personalities with Heather McDonald. It’s ridiculously interesting…and not just because I know all about borderline personality from real life.

So much cool stuff for a M…..oops….almost said the M Word.

I shall not.

So Happy ‘not-saying-the-M-Word‘ day.

More later.

Trying Dragon NaturallySpeaking as an alternative to Apple Dictation.

Wish me luck!

Okay…not much progress with Dragon yet because Apple is easy to keep using. Will play with it later.

But here’s today’s single panel – enjoy!

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Back to work everyone!

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.

How’s your company’s continuing education working for you?

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How’s your company’s continuing education working for you?
@gocomics  @SHRM @FortuneMagazine #training #narcissist

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Images, art and characters.