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posted on January 12th, 2014 under Etc..., Random Musings, Uncategorized

There is a secret society that many people do not know exists.  The society is so secret that although its membership is vast, few of its members even know other members.  Those who are not members may not know about the society and if they do, they may not take it seriously.  The society is very inclusive.  Its members are from all genders, races, nations, religions, sexual orientations, and political parties.

What is this huge secret society?  It is the society of those suffering, yes, suffering, from the illness, yes, illness, of depression.

Yesterday someone on facebook posted a link to a list of 20 guidelines for a productive life.  One of them stated harshly “Don’t be a sissy.”  It went on to say that this was especially important for women.  If you were anxious, afraid, or feeling hopeless, you needed to change your life.  Anxiety.  Feelings of hopelessness.   Symptoms of depression.  Having these feelings does not mean that you are weak, or a “sissy.” You may not be able to just change your life.  You may need professional medical assistance and you should not be ashamed to seek it.

But seeking treatment is often regarded as a frivolous luxury.  There are countless pictures of breathtaking mountain views, cute kittens and adorable babies, suggestions of hiking, recommendations of  wonderful movies, all posted with the caption “Cheaper than therapy.”  These posts are well-meaning suggestions for finding joy, but the message also is, you don’t need to spend money on therapy.  There are free pleasures that are just as effective.  Except they aren’t.

Seeking treatment also results in your having to answer yes to questions of whether you have ever been treated for depression on life insurance applications.  It means that because of atrocious acts committed by an extremely small percentage of the society, many will find you suspicious and want you to be registered like sex offenders on a list to be used for background checks for applications for some professions. It means bearing the label of crazy, instead of survivor.  So the society remains secret.  After all, it’s just all in our heads.


posted on August 18th, 2013 under Etc..., Random Musings

Flood-1973-North-PlainfieldOn August 2, 1973, there was a deadly flood in my hometown of North Plainfield, New Jersey. Our house (now my house) was not flooded or damaged, but the major road at the end of my street was flooded to such a degree that people had to be rescued from their homes in boats.    My family and I walked down our street to look at the flood and my father took pictures of the boats and my mother, my sister, and me, in a crowd of people who were also watching the devastation.   On the fortieth anniversary of the flood, August 2, 2013, I posted the pictures to a Facebook page where people share memories of our town.

Flood 1973 North PlainfieldPeople quickly began commenting on my post.   “I can’t believe it’s been forty years.”   And they shared memories of where they were and how their homes, families, and neighbors had fared.   Classmates of the 15-year old boy who drowned in the flood that day posted heart-breaking remembrances.  I wondered if I should have posted the pictures as they brought back such sad memories. One person posted how his family had lost their car and his father took the two license plates into the auto dealership and said “Now put a car between them.”

Flood-1973-north-plainfielddAnd then the memories became more personal, in a way that they never would have been before social media.   My sister commented that it must have also been mosquito season as the photo had captured her scratching a bite.  And then someone posted her shock that I had a picture of her in-laws and their dog on that day.   She shared the story of how they had been rescued by boat with the dog carried in a tote bag.  And there was the dog, and the tote, and the strangers in the photo were no longer strangers.

img264“Those are my kids in the orange jackets” exclaimed another.   And I imagined him sharing the pictures with his now adult children who might not otherwise have had a picture of them on that day.  Another said that her brother, who had died fifteen years later, was the boy with the hand on his hips, standing with his best friend.

flood-1973-north-plainfield“That’s my grandmother in the flowered dress” exclaimed yet another person.   Another person posted the name of the fireman standing guard. My father had taken pictures of my mother, my sister, and me, along with a crowd of people who had also gathered to see the flood and the boats.   But now they were no longer photographs of strangers, every person in the pictures had a story, accidentally captured on film by my father, and through the wonder of social media now had names. They are all forty years older, some have since died, but on that day they gathered together and and are now documented forever on Facebook.

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Quote of the Moment:

“Sometimes two people will regard each other over a gulf too wide to ever be bridged, and know immediately what could have happened, and that it never will.”
by Roger Ebert