Listen to my Life

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While sitting in the waiting room of my local Toyota dealership, waiting for my car to be serviced, I thought I was minding my own business. Unfortunately, I was very much mistaken. Everyone in the room was minding someone else’s business, one person in particular.

This was because the woman behind me took and made several calls on her cell phone, very much within earshot of everyone in the room.  I found out several things while listening to her. She and her husband are connected to the military. She has at least five Toyotas, mostly Highlanders. She recently paid $40,000 for a wedding. She was supposed to have lunch with someone but cancelled. She lives in metro Maryland.  She was very upset about the service she received recently when trying to buy another Toyota. She has been in the area since 1964. And her daughter didn’t sign her new husband up for insurance, yet.

She seemed the sort of person who would very much mind if, under other circumstances, someone were to find out these details of her life. But somehow, in the company of These Strangers, she was comfortable enough to use her phone as if she were simply calling people from the comfort of her own living room. She didn’t keep her voice down, or step out into the hall as I have seen other people do to use their phones. I thought it was very rude of her to take and make her calls within hearing distance of about two dozen people.

These days, more often than not, people think they are all alone in a void or vacuum when on their phones in public. How has that become okay or acceptable? Talking about the ins and outs of our lives for all the world to hear is somehow the unfortunate norm. We are all worried about hacks of social media, major corporations and the like. But somehow, when it comes to individual behavior, the floodgates are open to our personal conversations and therefore pieces of personal information in ignorant and selfish ways as demonstrated by this woman at the dealership.

I want to be aware of my surroundings and connected to those around me, but not in this way, and certainly not to this unwitting degree.  In the future, I may start carrying noise cancelling earphones with me in order to “escape” this kind of “it’s all about me” behavior. A shame but a seeming necessity.

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The Mental Health Journey, Pt. 1

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Is it crazy if you see a therapist or counselor? Why that word, why “crazy”? Sometimes I think all those who do not think they need counseling in this life are the “crazy” ones. If you think you can make it through this life alone, without some sort of help, YOU are crazy.

Life is not easy, for anyone, and there are those who need a little extra outside help to get through it. And one should not be looked down upon or think less of oneself if one chooses to get such help. Those who think they do not need even a little help are not always helpful or understanding to those of us who do.

We’re often told, “It’s all in your head.”, or “You’re just lazy.”, “I have felt sad too.” or “Snap out of it!” As you may have guessed, none of these phrases are supportive or helpful. Think of some of the other words that are used to describe someone who is a little “off” and imagine what it would be like to be labelled as such.

For the millions among us who are living with a mental illness, we are thought to be crazy. I choose not to say, “suffering from” mental illness because I do not want to put more of a negative spin on it than already exists. This is due to the already unfortunate prevalent stigma, the stigma that says we’re crazy, among other things.

The rest of the world thinks we’re crazy, or dangerous, or lazy, or insert (mostly negative) adjective of your choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are often among the most thought-ful ones. There is a lot going on between our ears. Our thoughts are just not always the most positive or uplifting or constructive, for us personally.

Our attitudes are usually reserved for ourselves alone. Our judgments are most often inwardly focused. And we are our own harshest critics. We share this with others around us, also harsh self-critics. Unlike those around us, we often can’t easily escape the possible downward spiral such negative self-criticism causes. Therefore, we need to “get out of our own heads” which doesn’t always seem easy or even possible.

You’re Not Crazy, You’re Just Depressed, (etc.)

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Once upon a time when a friend of mine found out I was seeing a counselor, he said, “You must be crazy!” I said, “No, I’m not. I’m just depressed.”

I’m told everyone gets depressed from time to time but people who are clinically depressed don’t have a “garden variety” depression. I’m not even sure there is such a thing exists. There are as many types of depression as there are people. Mental illnesses are as individual as those who suffer from them because everyone’s brain chemistry is different. No two people are exactly alike & no two experiences of mental illness, (depression, OCD, mania, etc.) are exactly alike either.

Mental illness – the mere mention of it has an unfortunate stigma attached to it. But not everyone with mental illness is dangerous, crazy or psychotic.

“You can’t judge a book by its cover” applies here.

To be Continued…