Posted by: marilynmendoza | November 16, 2012

LIES AND VIDEO- TAPE, NO SEX- AN OPEN LETTER TO TMZ AND OTHER MEDIA

I did say that I would not post more than 100 posts but the media attack on my son must be addressed so here is 101

http://www.tmz.com/2012/11/16/miley-cyrus-restraining-order-scissors-jason-luis-rivera/

Dear TMZ

Does it bother you that this story is untrue and that you know it.  In fact your “breaking” video of my son’s arrest shows that my son was not wielding anything. I had a lengthy conversation with the prosecutor and he confirmed my son did not have any weapons on his person except the scissors you constantly refer to. He voluntarily told the police that he had a pair of scissors he had found.

Does it bother you that you are perpetuating the stigma against the mentally ill by your name calling? Words are powerful and they incite people to love or hate or war or peace.  My son is not a maniac. He is not the dumbest criminal alive.  He did not have a weapon, was not convicted of stalking and does not have a lengthy criminal record. These are all lies. What he does have is an illness, a mental illness.   That is one of  the “other factors” you mentioned in his getting out early. He has an illness and not unlike cancer or arthritis, it hurts. Please stop the stigma against the mentally ill. We all pay when the mentally ill are portrayed as maniacs. Most of us will have some kind of mental illness in our lifetime; or know someone with a mental illness.  According to the NIMH, it is one in four.  I have an anxiety disorder now which is under control. My book which is the same name as this blog is a memoir which does not omit my suffering with mental illness but  I do not hang my head in shame.
Maybe you feel you are entitled as  a celebrity reporter to give the public sensational news. Miley Cyrus is big news. So, when the police were called to her house, you were there to happily video my son and record his delusions for the world to see. You must have seen the video you made. I did. It was all over the internet with many titles that can all be filed down to “Scissor Wielding Maniac stalks teenager”  Does it bother you at all that his children are suffering and are you surprised that they love him? The truth can be more interesting to some readers than the drivel that your reporters make up. He is a non-violent published poet. He never swore at his mother or his children in his life and when he was ten, his teacher gave him a set of encyclopedias for his curious mind and sweet personality. Oh, I know that is not news your reader want.  He also has severe mental illness since puberty and has had multiple traumas since then. Mental illness is a tough illness to treat. He has tried many medications with little result. The mother of his children helped him to survive and even thrive in a world that rejects the mentally ill and when his delusions became too much to handle, he left his family. But that was only a few months before the incident. He has largely been a part of his children’s life and has written poetry dedicated to them and his love for them never wavers.
Does it bother you that unlike the celebrities that you cover, he has no means to defend himself against slander and bullying. Does it bother you that by inciting people to be afraid of the mentally ill, you are hurting the very people who read about “crazy people.”
I know the answer. None of this bothers you because money is your god. Morality is not in your vocabulary. However, I am naive to believe that there are more good people in the world that than bad and that your lies will be exposed and rejected.
I want you to retract your slanderous lies about my son. He is in jail and doing more time that a certain Ms. Anthony did for not murdering her daughter. He is a peaceful man whose last words to me were “I love you Mom.” I know that most parents of mentally ill children who are in the criminal justice system skulk away in shame. I am not ashamed or afraid. I must be strong for my people; the voiceless mentally ill, even and especially if my own child is one of the four. I want to end by saying I am sorry for whatever pain my son’s actions caused Ms. Cyrus family. I was shocked at the hatred I read directed at her. It reminded me of one thing. As humans we are not all that different and none of us are immune to hate mongers.  signed  A mother
Posted by: marilynmendoza | November 6, 2012

6 DEGREES OF MILEY CYRUS; MOTHER OF “STALKER” SPEAKS -LAST POST

Six degrees of separation is the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. I am now six steps away to the celebrity Miley Cryus.

Jason Luis Rivera holding baby brother in happier times

I never saw the movie based on that premise or thought much of that concept until my son Jason Luis Rivera was convicted of trespassing in Ms. Cryus property. I  vaguely heard about Hannah Montana but hadn’t followed Ms. Cyrus career. Now, it feels like we are connected in some sad sick way. I wrote a memoir about my anxiety disorder but didn’t mention my son’s more severe mental illness. I wrote about my mother dying in the mental ward of Staten Island Hospital but never mentioned my son Jason walking on broken glass and picking up rocks when his wife and baby daughter temporarily left him in Hawaii fifteen years ago.  It wasn’t my business I thought.

I write about the stigma of mental illness and how it affects society but never felt that stigma as personally as when my son was in the news “wielding a scissor.” On the record,

the prosecutor told me my son never wielded anything and was indeed delusional but he couldn’t force my son to take a plea deal. My son is 40 years old. The pundits online laughed at the thought of my son possibly endeavoring to give Miley a new hairdo. I cried.

My next book is about celebrating my anxiety and how mentally ill people have special gifts. My son is a published poet, a beloved father even when he was ill and never showed any hint of violence toward anyone. But his delusion that he is connected to Ms. Cyrus is real to him. He believes her music is speaking to him.  I can say 99 % that he never intended to hurt Miley but there is that 1 %  that is unpredictable and that is the brain disorder itself. I can say I am truly sorry that Ms. Cyrus is going through this and I am sorry my son did not take the probation deal offered to him. He said he would never forgive himself if he didn’t tell “the truth” about his relationship with Ms. Cyrus.

I do not hang my head in shame that I gave birth to a son who has a mental illness. If he had cancer or diabetes I would be encouraged to talk about my feelings but with a mental illness comes silence and shame. I will not bow to that shame. To do so would be to bow to all persons who suffer the stigma of mental illness and all those who work to end that stigma.

Mental illness is rampant in our modern world and a symptom of the breakdown of the “it takes a village” concept. Increasingly, the disorder has ostracized and isolated the very people who need the support the most. In our politically correct culture admitting to having a mental illness is verboten and one of the last frontiers of prejudice in our society.

We bandy about the word “Crazy” like well- crazy. “That’s crazy”, he or she is crazy cool, crazy, crazy and more crazy.

In old English Crazy comes from the word ‘Cracked” also not a nice word but more accurate in that a crack can  signify a damage or an identifying mark that makes something or someone unique.In the past people who saw things others did not and perhaps had bi- polar disorder or schizophrenia were thought of as special and brought into the society ; not thrown out like in today’s world. They were the seers, the medicine men, the prophets. They were given a place in their community.  Perhaps placing them inside the community in a special way prevented the rare events today where mentally ill people become violent.

Words matter. How we use them matter. If we misuse crazy for evil, insane or nonconformity we are abandoning and stigmatizing the mentally ill. I am not attempting to trivialize the severity of the suffering that arrives with a mental illness, but  how we accept our own and other’s stories can change the world. Talking about mental illness is vital to end the fear that makes all hate and prejudice happen.

Society wants the mentally ill to remain invisible.  I’ve had the experience of being invisible when I was deep into my illness. I spoke to a doctor and a glazed look came over his eyes, and bibbity- bobbity boo. I was no longer there, I didn’t belong.  It’s a jarring sensation and I think many of my more extreme  plans to do the impossible came out of my yearning to be more than my disease, to be more than visible, to be noticed.

My son did  wrong and he is paying for it. He was convicted of 2 misdemeanors and will be in jail for 18 months with no time off for “good’ behavior. He told his lawyer he didn’t  have a mental illness even though it could have been easily found out. He was on disability and has a history of going to psychiatrists looking for that magic medicine cure. He told the court he suffers only from a hormonal imbalance. Perhaps he was also ashamed of being tagged as “crazy” which of course the media was happy to do for him.

So many lies were told about my son. On one site they encouraged prisoners to rape him, and on another they showed a photo of him with a beard while in the TMZ video he is clean-shaven. There was even a whole show Nancy Grace dedicated to my son and Ms. Cyrus. One side was a head shot of Miley, the other side Jason and in the middle a huge pair of scissors. I felt like I was in an alternate universe. Six degrees of Miley Cyrus indeed. Nancy Grace kept saying how my son’s poetry was all love and how could he love a teenager when he was a 40-year-old man. She asked why was he writing poetry instead of working. Jason desperately wanted to work and was in Tennessee working the last time I talked to him. Nancy Grace spouted the common misconceptions that mentally ill people are lazy and showed indifference of the many ways mental illness can affect the sufferer. She was a bully and wouldn’t listen to the facts, and kept interrupting the guests who were about to say he published a book that had no violence or hatred in it.

I was told by a well-known psychiatrist that my son probably suffers from erotomania among other mental illnesses.  Erotomania is a psychiatric term of a rare disorder in which an individual has a delusional belief that a person of higher social status falls in love and makes amorous advances towards him/her.

It is rare when an Erotomaniac physically harms their victim, but these are the cases that make it to the Evening News. In fact most mentally ill people are not violent but the instances where they attack others are so scary that the label is put on all the mentally ill.

I can tell you that my son is non violent, (he does not have a long criminal history in Texas) He used marijuana to self medicate. He  is a spiritual person, once was a child model but you can only see the photos on the internet where he indeed is shown as  “a crazed lunatic.” I can tell you, my son was a teacher’s pet who was given a set of encyclopedias in 6th grade to the chagrin of the other teachers and students, a man who listens when you speak, who loves his children but you won’t believe me.

It’s not your fault. You think a picture is worth a thousand words so I will end with a photo of who my son is, was and hopefully will be again and urge you to take another look at your view of the mentally ill. After all according to the National institute of Mental Health, (NIMH) one in four of us has one at any given time. It is time to change our minds about mental illness. It is not a defect in character. It is a disease. It is not shameful and my hope now is that my son will get help and be able to return to his family. The night my son trespassed on Ms. Cyrus property and lit candles Miley was at the VMA award show. If she had been home with her bodyguards my son might have been killed. Today Ms. Cyrus got a restraining order against Jason. I can only pray that in 17 months he will be well enough to honor that order. I am connected to Miley Cyrus in compassion and hope. I am connected to my son and all those who suffer from the stigma of mental illness with dedication and determination to eradicate that stigma. Let’s start talking.

Posted by: marilynmendoza | October 17, 2012

NO BUTTS ABOUT IT, I LOVE MY BODY

My mother never told us her age. I was told to lie about how old I was even when I was ten.  She was adamant to the point of obsessiveness about this. In camp, she put me in a group of 8 year olds instead of my age group of ten. This caused me a lot of problems starting when I spoke up when she told the camp administrator my wrong birthday. He looked at me funny, like I either was lying or a bit slow. The worse part though was being stared out for having breasts and butt at “8″ and how this made me an outcast with the “little flowers” Ugh

I came to terms with maturing early later, well, much later. “Don’t let a boy touch you or you’ll get pregnant” was her only advice when I got my first period at nine. I would huddle in the cloakroom so afraid of getting pregnant if some snot nose boy would touch my shoulder. And one day an older neighbor boy I knew forever tried to kiss me when I let him in my house when he got locked out. I think I looked at my stomach for any swelling for a whole year, so scared he made me pregnant whatever that was. So much for sex education But I digress.

One day at gym class I looked down at my thighs and though I was slim then, wondered where the rolls of fat came from. I wasn’t so much disgusted as curious. I also had big hip bones and a quite a bit of butt too. My friends told me it was a good thing. I lived in a Puerto Rican neighborhood where big butts were revered but I was unsure if this thigh thing could be good. My legs are short with thin ankles and developed calves rising to chicken fat thighs. Since I was slim, it wasn’t noticeable unless I wore that hideous gym suit. I also noticed that even at a size 3 petite, (now with size deflation a 1) I had big hip bones and straight skirts made me look well- sexy. The whistles of the Puerto Rican men in Brooklyn told me that. (Hey mami psssssss)

This week, I am doing a Puerto  folkloric dance after many years. This bomba dance (dancing with the drum) is Afro Caribbean and there is a lot of moves where you stick you butt out. I am taking my arthritic 62-year-old body and presenting it with relish to a small group of well wishers. I practiced in front of the mirror and admired my body. This body has taken me through a lot and there is no good or bad about my body. It’s mine and it’s fine. I love my body including my short fat thighs and my bigger than J’lo’s butt (not as big as Kim K’s though) and when I stick it out there it will be with pride. I once dated a 72 year- old man who told me about age. “It is was it is” That’s how I feel about my body and when I starting loving my body I started taking better care of it so whatever you think your flaws are, remember in some big or small country somewhere, you would be admired for advancing age and  for the flaw that you are now gnashing your teeth over.. “Wepa” meaning Wow in Spanish

For more about my me there is a new interview I did on my memoir “From Agoraphobia to Zen” check it out.

http://ordinarygirlzbookreviews.blog.com/2012/10/16/author-interview-marilyn-mendoza/

Posted by: marilynmendoza | September 30, 2012

So long September

They say September is a good month. We have Labor Day Picnics and nice weather. I think having a day off for workers is a good thing but  I happen to dislike the idea of picnics. The ants, the sitting on the tablecloth, the people sitting so close, who needs it?   Yet many people love September. September is the beginning of the Jewish New Year, happiness and forgiveness and the beginning of  the school year. I think I liked September better when my kids were young and goat like. This September has not been good for me. I blame Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, especially destructive fire, and craftsmanship ( He supposedly was a blacksmith who made tools of destruction).  Vulcan thought the month of September was sacred. One of his wives was Venus so he must have been a hunk but a bad boy hunk, the kind that Venus and many other woman would want to marry. He also had another wife named Maia.  She was pretty hot too.

 Anyway I digress. I am glad this September is almost over. It was not good to me this year. But hey, I’m not complaining. I’m still alive, all my goats and dogs are too, one just barely; the goat not the dog. and my man  helped me by not adding to my troubles. He never does. He is not Vulcan like. More nerd like. I like that in a man though for a Roman  god, it might not be a good thing. Ugliness is a funny thing though, it really is in the eyes of the beholder. You see when Vulcan was born his mother Juno tried to throw him off a cliff because he was ugly. It didn’t work.  It just made him stronger, angry and passionate. I can relate.

I am ready for October. I always disliked October not because of Halloween, but because I met 2 out of my 3 husbands on that blasted day. So this is an a small poem that is not funny but comes out of the September that kicked my ass and how it made me stronger to fight on for injustice.

This is Vulcan and Maia. He hadn’t met Venus yet.

I’m a tiger, hear my cry

I’m a woman, that’s no lie

I’m not perfect but I try

I fight those bastards who tell us lies

The sheep who follow the media trail

Give up their souls to sink like snails

They adore the gossip so they can smirk

And feel their lives are better than dirt

 

The voice in the night that goes unheard

Are the old, the ill, the homeless herd

They have no cash, cache or clout

They soar within but live without

I fight for them with all my might

I’m one of them. I share their plight

But I’ve found my voice, my strength my light

I live each day to continue the fight

I guess I have more in common with Vulcan that I thought

As a mother of a mentally ill son, I am amazed at the treatment of the mentally ill. They are laughed at, bullied, and stigmatized. As a person with an anxiety disorder and a victim of crime, I can understand that there is fear. Some of the fear turns to hate, some of the hate makes the public turn their backs on the mentally ill until an incident happens that starts the whole cycle again. Most of the mentally ill are not violent but of course there are no guarantees. The answer is to open a dialogue about the stigma, the shame and the pain. This poem is dedicated to my son, another tortured soul who lost his way.

HE’S A FAN WITHOUT FAME

A GENTLE WANDERER ON THE PLAIN

PICKS UP THINGS FROM THE GROUND

LIKE THE PET ROCK HE FOUND

FILLED HIS POCKETS WITH WEIGHT

TRIED TO OPEN A GATE

LIT CANDLES IN A ROW

FOR A STAR HE LAID LOW

HIS TIE HELD A HEART

THAT SET HIM APART

AND NOBODY KNOWS

THE SADNESS HE TOWS

MAN WITHOUT A PLAN

DAMN

HELP HIM PLEASE

HE HAS A DISEASE

CRAZED, WHAT A PHRASE!

WANDERS IN A DAZE

“LUNATIC”? WHAT WORDS YOU PICK

STIGMA IS SIN

NOBODY WINS

Posted by: marilynmendoza | August 28, 2012

Sacred- a poem part one- to Linda

A hint. My new book will have Sacred in its title. Yes, I’ve started on the book. I’ve also been distracted by small stuff my anxiety turned into bigger stuff. I found out a friend who was in the first chapter of my memoir “From Agoraphobia to Zen” Linda, passed away twelve years ago. It jarred me for many reasons not the least being I portrayed her in her truth at the time and now I can’t explain to her why I needed to do that. She had been forgiven a long time ago but since I had lost track of her, I felt she was still on the planet if only because a fortune-teller had told her in my presence she would have a long life. This got me  thinking of other people who had inhabited my life and one in particular who will be in my next book.  I am still too raw to write about Linda, but this is dedicated to  her memory

Sacred and Profane

demons call my name

I awake with a start

fragments of a broken heart

was it so long ago

I don’t even know

when our bodies entwined

when I called you mine

I,  naked and sacred

You, profane in your blame

You went for the vein

A sad refrain

much blood was shed

and then I fled

to start again

I found my soul

filled up the holes

in a book of truth

never aloof

Now, Sacred is my name

stigma the profane

And I fight for the rights

of those without light

and I’ll never again

Idolize men

Posted by: marilynmendoza | August 7, 2012

A short love poem – close to my 100th and final post

Dear Friends,

  I have started writing my new book so I will be ending this blog on the 100th post which will be soon. I want to thank the 5000 people who viewed my blog and those who commented and shared their talent with me. I will start a new blog to keep my friends informed but more importantly to keep in touch with the creativity here on WordPress as well as other social media sites. Here is a short poem written when I met my best and last partner of 4 years

TO JACKSON

Let’s run away to Bombay,Venice, Atlantis or Pompei

Let’s drift on boats on lazy seas

then feel the earth move under our feet

We’ll live in the now

never bow

to the constrictive voices of the crowd

Lets go away; just to play

forget the troubles of the day

hold me tight in the land of our roots

experience  euphoria that lives in the truth

I was unhappy, my mind adrift

needing someone to give me a lift

and then you arrived ; your karma defined

by deeds of kindness you leave behind

on coral  rocks we’ll touch ashore

and never be lonely anymore

Posted by: marilynmendoza | July 25, 2012

NOT READY TO MAKE NICE

I am a memoir writer. That means I write the truth of my life; whether it be good , bad or ugly. Some of my family members think a lot of what I reveal veers toward the bad or ugly; but when I read through my various blog posts, social media activity and even my memoir, I don’t think my authentic self has been revealed yet. I intend to change that.  Even in an authentic memoir, you choose what you reveal and how you reveal yourself.   What you leave out and how you tell the story can be more revealing than the gritty truth. I call this truth selective truth. I intended to be real and I can say my memoir was real. But somewhere along the way, a bit of hell got paved  with those good intentions when I tried to sell said memoir. I became “nice.”

According to “Sharon” at www.dailywritingtips.com, NICE IS NOT NICE AT ALL. I now give you the history of nice according to their website–

 

“My high school English teacher banned the use of the word nice. She said it was a lazy adjective. Although she was a bit harsh, there was some truth in what she said.

It is said that nice originates from the Latin nescio meaning ‘I don’t know’. So what Mrs C was getting at was that if you used the word nice, you probably didn’t know what to say.

Even after Roman times, nice just wasn’t a good word to use. In the 13th century it meant foolish, so saying someone was nice was insulting rather than complimentary. Through the centuries nice had different meanings, including timid, extravagant, elegant, wanton, dainty, strange, thin, modest, shy and precise (this last meaning still survives in the phrase ‘nice and early’).

By the 18th century the meaning had started to change to the more modern sense of agreeable or kind. That still didn’t cut any ice with my English teacher, though, who remained opposed to using nice all through my school career. How many synonyms can you find for nice?”

I am foolish, strange extravagant and even wanton at times, but these meanings aren’t used any more for nice. Nice is just bland. I am not bland. But wanting to make my online presence positive and kind and not attract toxic people or game players like in “Farmville” I ended up “nice.”   Don’t get me wrong. I believe  in kindness above all but without a bit of spice, kindness is just nice. (Poetry not intended) or is it? he he

I am writing another memoir that will  not  only prove I’m not nice  but will uncover my badassness. I’ll start here in a bold way. One day, short of cash and long of time, I was recruited by “Tammy” of Toronto to be employed as a phone sex operator or PSO as it’s called in the “Biz’ I failed terribly in my 2 days of training leading me to a good chapter in my next book which will be.  ” It’s not easy being easy”  Who knew men wanted a PSO to be demure and act like their girlfriend?  I thought it was about sex! 

Then there was the time I stole not a loaf of bread like Jean Val Jean in “Les Miserables”  but  2 Motrin’s out of a bottle in my local drug store.  I know. “Thou shall not steal” but thou didn’t have a headache with no money.  What to do, what to do?. I know some people would say my crimes are minor but certainly they couldn’t be classified as “nice?”  

I once went out to dinner with a drunk matador in Spain. I knew he was falling down drunk and bad but hey, how many people can say they had dinner with a matador? NO Bull!  Now, I’m an animal advocate but at 23, that decision was as cool as cool got and not nice at all. I didn’t let him in my room( he was a visiting matador from Mexico and the hotel had lost his reservation) but naughty as I was, I drew the line to him possibly saying to me. “Lie down, I want to talk to you.” He slept in the lobby and I was left with a good memory that lingers until today. I could have shared that in my memoir  and not be considered nice, but my book was written with a passionate message of healing from mental illness and it just didn’t fit in. I  can’t even tell this true story to my Facebook  or Twitter friends, because it sounds like I’m bragging about what an interesting life I have or had and isn’t that what some people hate about Facebook and Twitter; all those people telling you every detail about their exciting lives while  you’re sitting in your ratty bathrobe getting phone calls from perverts hoping to make a dollar or two?  Well,  I can go on and tell you other ways I’m not nice, but you’ll have to wait for my next memoir for that.  I promise you one thing, it won’t be nice.

Posted by: marilynmendoza | July 20, 2012

COLORADO MASACRE BRINGS OUT THE BEST AND WORST OF US

First of all I want to offer my condolences and empathy  to all those who knew someone who perished or were injured in this horrific massacre. Innocent movie goers become  victims of an evil and disturbed individual. Today,  anger exploded on all fronts. The anti-gun control advocates were urging Piers Morgan to wait until this tragedy was figured out before starting up the fight to ban all assault weapons and Morgan angrily replied if it had been figured out yesterday this wouldn’t have happened. Anger exploded. The people who are in fear of the mentally ill began railing at the “crazies” in our society. The mentally ill fighting stigma were silenced for a minute, too afraid to respond with the facts. The majority of the mentally ill are not violent. .  I suffer from a mental illness and I have never met a violent sufferer yet.   But in the heat of fear and ignorance people want answers and someone to blame beside the perpetrator. This is normal human behavior. But so are love, hope and compassion.

Mother blogs were angry at the “type”  of parent who takes their month old children to violent movies at midnight.  Others were pleading for tolerance and informing the more affluent mothers that young parents don’t always have money for babysitters.  I was a teenage wife and parent and I sometimes brought my children to inappropriate places; once to a job interview and then to a nightclub in Puerto Rico.  

Violent movies and games were one of the major offenders to blame but media psychologists reported that the angry and disenfranchised were more likely to become lone wolves lashing out at society than those who played Halo.  They said violent games were not proven to be correlated to these brutal incidents.   The opposers were sure that violence breeds violence and that we should go back to the days of yore.  Hello Andy and Bee, goodbye Dexter. They have a point but time and technology prevents back to the future type innocence.

But throughout the fighting, there is a mutual sadness and  love for those that are lost that rises  like light against the darkness of death and  brings us together in one human being. As Anne Frank so eloquently said. Despite everything, I believe that. people are really good at heart.” 
 

This said in the face of inhuman horror and genocide.  We must never forget that time in history and we must never forget this one.

 We come together tonight  as compassionate humans wanting to help one another in this time of tragedy. Inhumanity brings out the best in humans who love and care for others who suffer. My wish is that when the anger dissipates  and leaves in its wake only grief and hope all parties can communicate effectively on these important matters and reach consensus.  Now it is time for mourning those who were lost and think of the families going through unbelievable agony. Life is precious, life is fragile. We must remember this truth and not forget the individuals who were lost as well as the pain that remains. There is no answer except love.
Posted by: marilynmendoza | July 16, 2012

DEAR MATT LAUER; DON’T CALL ME CRAZY

My ex-boyfriend told me his mother kept up to 50 cats outside on leashes and stayed awake all night cooking for them. When the neighbor’s complained  she explained to my ex that while human beings had always hurt and disappointed her animals never did. Maybe you might think the mother was inhumane and mentally ill and maybe you would be right but if I tell you the  details maybe you won’t. This was Japan in a time where cats were exterminated on sight and men were publicly  encouraged to be cruel to their wives.  I have also been disappointed in people and my latest disappointment  is in you Mr. Lauer.

Now, I know you are the host of the Today Show and are respected for your sensitivity and fairness and in fact you were one of my favorite news anchors. But yesterday you disappointed me with your very insensitive remark about anxiety disorder. You joked with one of your female co-hosts. I know Ann Curry was let go before I could blink, so  it must have been your new host Savannah Guthrie. You joked she was about to have a “Full blown panic attack” ha ha ha Oprah Winfrey has a saying. “What I know for sure.”  She sure has a lot of things she knows for sure and I don’t, but one thing I know for sure is that you, Mr. Lauer have never had a full-blown panic attack or any panic attack or you would never have joked like that. I who know only a few things for sure have had many a panic attack and let’s just say it isn’t a joking matter. It is a matter of life or death at the time to the person who is having it. Not you of course.

I shouldn’t have been disappointed or even surprised. The stigma against mental illness is one of the last frontiers of accepted prejudice.  There are so  many falsehoods about people who have a mental illness it’s close to impossible to list them here but for you I’ll try; we are crazy, violent, homeless drug addicted wrecks. 

 Mental illness affects a large population of the world.According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over a third of people in most countries report problems at some time in their life which meet criteria for diagnosis of one or more of the common types of mental disorder

 ChosenFast.com, news and info about homelessness and related issues in Greensboro, N.C says

To sum up: Most mentally ill people are no more dangerous than non-mentally ill people. But there is a subgroup of seriously mentally ill people who are more dangerous than the general population. They are the ones who make headlines — and stereotypes. An update  on this site says-Alcohol is more closely associated with crimes of violence than any other drug. It is a bigger culprit in connection with murder, rape, assault and child and spouse abuse than any illegal drug.”

Chosen Fast is written by Michele Forrest, a Greensboro, NC homeless advocate

I know what you are thinking Mr. Lauer. Who am I to tell you what is true or untrue?.  I was fooled into thinking you were practically perfect but it’s not my fault. I was brought up with Walter Cronkite before we had images of war and poverty in our faces every day on TV news shows, making us almost immune to the most terrible acts humans can inflict on fellow humans -And animals. I thought at least you would know that mental illness is an illness just like  heart disease or diabetes. It is not a flaw of character. It is not our fault and now it is more treatable than ever.

Anxiety is my particular mental illness with agoraphobia as it’s twin. I stay at home more than I want to. I am afraid more than I want to be and I used to have “full-blown panic attacks” that brought me to many emergency rooms around the world. I say the world because I had this force inside of me that wouldn’t give in to my disease and I took the risk to live and fail. I failed a lot but I lived and healed.  I wrote a memoir to understand what brought me to anxiety besides genetics and trauma, and there was a lot of both. I was called “crazy” “weird, nuts  and a basket case. I didn’t let that define me and I can’t allow you now to define  panic disorder or to laugh at the sufferers of this painful disorder without using my biggest weapon against stigma; WORDS.

So, I close with a story. I now have three dogs who live inside my house and they give me  love and comfort without  disappointment. I don’t call anyone “crazy” or laugh at any illness and I hope you never will again. I don’t cook for my dogs all night, I now can sleep but my fur babies  eat organic food and together with my significant other we  walk them every day. It’s not always easy but my love for all of them gives me  the strength to go out and take risks to live a meaningful life.

Maybe you also like animals. I hope you do. Maybe you are not a bad guy but I won’t hold my breath for an apology. You were ignorant to laugh and think you’re funny or better than one who does suffer with anxiety. I also think Ann Curry wouldn’t have made that joke.

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