I think we should have more fun with mental health.
At the risk of sounding like the biggest asshole in the room, during a time when people are coming out of the dark to discuss the things that burden them. Tears through rust. Rot that you can only keep scraping away. Brain barnacles. All those things; the idiosyncrasies of the person you should know best. You know, you. The malaise, the weight, the bitterness of your own breath. The lifeless legs. Staring out the window wondering how it is everyone else is doing so much better. Haunting strolls on Facebook. Twitter tightening your noose. Do all those glut goons have to work out that much on Instagram? Am I ever going to follow through on anything?
The quest to kill off the worst part of you which is hard to believe isn't every part of you.
We should have more fun with that.
For example, how is it that your friend can saunter out of the bathroom and declare that the nachos were better on the way in than on the way out, yet no one is comfortable with a little brain chemistry? Synapses. Electricity. Good, clean bolts of life-giving lightning. How is that taboo? I want to be able to walk into work and say, "I cried all night last night!" And chest bump colleagues as I proudly proclaim insomnia, anxiety, and the ripped tissue of self-inflicted slugs of doubt.
"Man o' man, it was tough!" I'd shout.
"How about some gender neutrality in your declarations, grandpa!" someone would yell back. And there'd be burn noises and giggles and we'd get to work.
You know when you have the sniffles and everyone either helps or hopes you go home? It's because it's out there. Your illness has manifested itself into the ancient nasal wail of centuries of community care for common ailments. We can handle snot, so tears shouldn't be a far cry. Why not a a junk drawer of feel-good meds not unlike the first-aid kit of pain killers and gauze?
We need to have more fun with mental health.
Because everything that ails us is some battle raging on the inside. Mental health just gets to be all tricky and hide. The internal not emerging until it's too late.
Some lady walks in. A mean bit of open flesh up her leg. "Ahhhh road rash. Son of a bitch!" There's blood and torn skin and we praise her for her recklessness. We should be able to walk into the room with all the scabs on our insides and say, "Oh shit. I just spent all night eating uncooked pasta and listening to Morrissey because I don't know what in the fuck is happening to me!"
"Damn! And you're here!" might reply one friend who knows we're having fun with mental health.
"Good job surviving that," would say another. High fiving and nodding knowingly while we wad up terrible poetry that no one will have to read because, finally, we're having fun with mental health.
And then instead of shying away from the crazy. You'd lean right into it and drink some beers together.
Just like road rash girl, you'd been dragged through something. You got peeled. And instead of taking half a second on the pavement, it was a long night of being grated across angst's asphalt. Your brain pulled along a gravel road, but you're showing up like a champ. And that shit should be celebrated. Son of a bitch. Road rash has nothing on that.
Glad you're here, man.
We just gotta have more fun with mental health.
Somebody has a baby. We talk a lot about the production of babies. Dilation, contractions--Jesus Christ, mucus plug. Wide open, spread-leg conversations of everything that makes it happen. It's amazing. Compliments to the women of the world for maintaining the continuation of the species. But if we can talk about that, how about the daily reverse of birth? Which is the little bits of death that everyone deals with on a regular basis.
"Oh, god something crawled up inside of me and died!"
"What do you mean, Janelle?"
"I tried to go on a Tinder date and he was a cunt and it was the last bit of me I could give. I spent the night on the edge of the bed pushing a stray sock around with my toes."
"And you made it to work today?"
It's a freakin miracle.
My mom used to disappear. She used to hide out and close the door to the bedroom. My dad would say, "She's having a low blood sugar day." She'd be down. Occasionally we could get past my dad and find her on the bed. Lying on her side. She'd wipe her face. Staring beyond the hand-me-down dresser at the textured white walls of the house we still haven't finished building.
I'll never forget that warmth. That comfort of knowing. My mom would shake it off and say, "Hey Jer. Whatcha doing?"
I'd rattle off some nine-year-old scheme. Something about a fort or a mystery in the woods. Playing. Probably had some kind of road rash, some scrape, some stab that I could show off.
And this was a lady who loved fun. I wish she could show off what was going on with her. Maybe a chuckle and a "now you most likely will deal with it, too!" We'd laugh, like when she pointed out her dad had been bald and my hair's chances for longevity were thin.
It's pretty obvious that it's good I learned how to joke about hair loss when I was young. And now the last thing I want is my kids slinking into the dark because they're supposed to be ashamed they're not spewing smiles like a high-pressured hose. We don't need whispered hush-hush confessions, but full-throated conversations. That thing that's pulling you down like a concrete whale chained to your taint? That's normal. It's completely fucking normal. I'll tell you more while we're outside running around the sunshine playground of you're-not-alone enlightenment.
People do workouts and diet plans. They eat fad supplements and, right in front of you, pop a prescription that's nationally advertised as a catalyst for suicidal thoughts. People will look you right in the eye and share with great enthusiastic detail the surgical procedure of re-routing their intestine into a small stomach pouch. And they're excited and we're adaptable and we enjoy a tiny meal together. How in the fuck is that more of a conversational centerpiece than how their brain is doing? The brain, makes it all happen. So maybe we take control of it instead of dying alone when it gets the best of us.
And, while we're at it, we should drop the mental. "How's your health?"
"Synaptic plasticity is a bitch. I can't wait to drink a fifth of vodka and forget everything!"
How about half a fifth? We'll split it and have some fun with mental health.