Monday, May 03, 2010

Mental Health Monday: Petting Bees.

I seem to have opened the flood gates on the dam of childhood memories. Actually, I'm not sure if I remember this, or it is something that my mom told me about myself as a little girl. The story goes that I found bees to be quite interesting. I got my first bee sting at daycare when I was 3 years old as a result of trying to pet one. I never tried that again.

I respect bees. They work hard. They just want to be left alone to do their thing. And if you mess with them, it's on. They also instill fear in "predators" 1000 times their size. Add to that the fact that they are led by a strong female - and you had me at hello.

I read the book "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd when it first came out in 2003, and I found it very touching, but didn't truly relate to it. It was made into a movie a few years ago, and I recently watched it on TV. I now relate to it deeply, specifically to a character I never in my life imagined I would identify with.

It isn't the super strong August, or the or the stubborn and prideful June. It is the sister named May, who is described as "a bit unusual and not able to cope with sadness". May had a twin sister, April, who died when they were younger. It is said that even before she died, May always experienced the same feelings as April. When April died, something in May died too... It seemed like the world itself became May's twin sister.

I feel vulnerable like May. I avoid sadness like it's the plague. Sad movies, songs, poems, books, TV shows...they can all get stuffed. I rarely read the newspaper for fear that the sadness of the world will overwhelm me. I do my best to support my friends and family when they are down, to hear them out, but I fear I am not very good at it right now. Every day I try to keep my head above water, to not get overwhelmed by the reality of having a child with Autism. I look into Max's eyes and smile, trying to express to him how much I love him, that he is the most special little boy in the world, and I cling to the belief that his future is bright.

To do that, I have to embrace the things that make me happy and turn my back on anything that might pull me into the depths of sorrow. Ice cubes in the shape of stars, lopsided sand castles, butterfly fabric, and car dancing to ridiculous pop songs make my day. Top Model, So You Think You Can Dance, America's Best Dance Crew are some of the best entertainment on TV bar done. Hearing Cam sing "Baby Beluga" out of tune, seeing Max run around the backyard bare foot and finding Scott asleep on the couch with a basketball game blaring make me grin.

I wish I was strong enough to cope with the sad stuff, to hold other peoples' pain. For now all I can muster is sparkly purple nail polish and lady bug barrettes.


  1. Anonymous12:49 a.m.

    You can't be scared to be sad. That doesn't work. It makes things worse.

    I avoided reading about the Gulf oil slick for a few days because it seemed too awful. But tonight I read some articles and comments for about an hour. And you know what? Its WAY worse than you can imagine. I mean, its some apocalyptic-type shit. But I'm better-off knowing the reality.

    We're conditioned to only want the good news, that knowing about all the awful things going on in the world will make us "depressed" and no fun at parties. Happiness sells, but its all bluff. All Top Model Dance-offs in the world will just leave you feeling empty. Its a calculated distraction.

    This is hardly helpful is it? I guess my point is don't be worried about being pulled into the "depths of sorrow". You're obviously stronger and more resilient than the average person. So read those depressing articles, novels, and listen to sad song-- it will only make you stronger!

  2. Anon - I totally appreciate your thoughts. I don't avoid sadness - I am sad all the time. This post was just a statement about where I'm at right now. I need to surround myself with happy things and joy to keep balance for myself so I can keep on fighting the good fight. Also Top Model and Dance-offs are awesome.

    There was a Gulf oil slick? ;-p

  3. Caroline10:47 a.m.

    Oh yeah. Plus: there is a difference between sad or difficult news a la Gulf Oil Spill story, and sadness, which is personal, and affects you on a much deeper level (or at least for me) I don't hide from unhappy, but I do seek out happy, and I see that as a positive self-preserving step to take.

    And, BTW, some very happy memories for me also involve you, Miss Kitty. You, dressed like an icecream cone (not literally) going in to see your Mum in the hospital when you were first in Ottawa, and we took one of the bunnies the Easter Bunny had left at our house for you, in a camera bag that we weren't using for cameras (at least, not after that!) and showed it to your Mum and the three older ladies she was sharing her room with, who only spoke French (and Rabbit, as it tuned out!) A fun and funny visit, and it cheered up your Mum immensely, and you, who were missing her, even with the several days' sleepover you were then having at our madhouse.

    And you, again all in pastel colours, leaving from Jake & my wedding, on a hotter-than expected May day, walking towards the bus stop with your Mum, swinging your little pink tights around your upraised finger, singing a song. Very cute and funny!

    I believe that it makes total sense to seek happy, and to enjoy the hell out of it when it happens. I'm blessed to be a pretty happy person, in the main, but I figure a bit more never hurts. ;-D