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Pain is Just a Program

This week I’ve been taking Prednisone. For the first time in years. It helps me breathe when my asthma is rough, which I appreciate. But I’m not a fan of its side effects. For me it’s restlessness, moodiness and hunger. It can be far worse for others with possible side effects ranging from “inappropriate happiness” and bulging eyes to bruising, vomiting and more. Only five days of it (just took the last dose) but I’m ready to have this out of my system. And it’s been a particularly emotional week for me, for so many reasons. Life stuff like ongoing feuding with my landlord. But mainly? Because my amazing son graduated from high school last night. Many proud mom moments.

That brings me back to emotions and mental health. I’m a big fan of empathy and kindness. We can’t imagine what others around us are going through. The kind of physical pain or mental anguish they may be carrying with them. I believe everyone should see a therapist, if they are able to. Anthony Bourdain is on my mind this morning. Growing up my family never traveled beyond the tri-state area. I didn’t board an airplane until I was 17. But I read constantly - books and glossy travel magazines - and dreamed of being anywhere other than where I was. As an adult I’ve been able to travel a bit. Not as much as I would like but more than many. And I’ve shared my passion for travel with my son. I’ve emphasized the importance of life experiences over buying/having stuff. As a longtime vegan I overlooked Bourdain’s mocking of my tribe and enjoyed watching his episodes featuring destinations I am likely to visit as well as ones I probably won’t get to. Often I found him endearing.

“An octogenarian columnist who’d written a review about a new Olive Garden in her small city was ripped to shreds by pretentious assholes in the food blogging community and beyond.

Anthony Bourdain flew her to New York for a meal at Per Se. Then he wrote the forward to her book.”

Amazing. I missed his Montreal episode before my first trip there but enjoyed watching it prior to my second visit. We had wildly different experiences in Paris and Berlin and Croatia and Copenhagen but it was fun to compare notes, and pick up the flavor of a place from his take on it. He had incredible experiences in Lebanon, the country my family migrated from that I have yet to visit. I’ve had dreams about Bourdain and my Dad once smoked cigarettes with him outside of a book tour event. In the Fall I’ll be thinking of Bourdain and his no bullshit attitude to travel and life as I travel around Dublin, Rome and the Italian countryside on my own.

But today I woke up to the news that Bourdain took his own life. A perfect example of someone who appeared to have everything they could ever hope for or dream of, but he was still battling his own demons. Mental health is just as important as physical health but our society doesn’t value it in the same way. And suicide rates are climbing in the United States.

From Dissonance:

This week has been hard with prominent suicides. If you are suffering, reach out. Call 1-800-273-8255 or text MN to 741741.

It took me years to finally start seeing a therapist. Before that I dealt with my own mental health issues (the tag team duo of trauma and grief) through escapism. Mainly science fiction and fantasy books, films and shows. And this is how I still cope, to a degree. The rise of nerd culture means I have too many amazing options everywhere that feel like they were tailor-made just for me. Last Sunday morning I took myself to see Upgrade (with MoviePass) before running errands. I’ve never been a fan of reality TV and generally prefer fiction to non, but I’m working on it. There are more non-fiction works I am a HUGE fan of these days across mediums, especially related to social justice and self-improvement.

Five good things:

  • Queer Eye season 2! In one week! So excited.
  • This documentary is at the top of my queue, because it is Pride month, and because I’ve been wanting to see it: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
  • Pose isn’t non-fiction, but it’s a fictionalized take on NYC’s very real Ball culture and house system scene in NYC and I adored the pilot episode. It reminded me of the 80s when I would devour Interview magazine cover to cover and wish I lived in NYC.
  • I’ve read all of Matt Haig’s fiction, but I have yet to tackle his memoir about depression called Reasons to Stay Alive. It’s time to bump that up to the top of the list.
  • And this, for some levity: “you haven’t experienced life until you’ve seen Muppet outtakes
High school graduation with Mom
High school graduation

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