So I have been chosen by the stage show “Listen to Your Mother” (LTYM) to recite my story on how my mother broke dishes at Christmas to express her frustration. It’s typical of the kind of sweetness and misery stories this blog is made of. After about half a dozen entries, it becomes clear if you’ve come for Lake Wobegon, you’re in the wrong territory.
I thought I did well at the audition but I’ve thought that before in other auditions and didn’t get a part. Now I’m presented with an unexpected opportunity to read before an audience.
As part of the LTYM bonding experience, quite a bit of personal information is being shared among the 12 women and myself (yep) on their social media page and later on other parts of the Internet.
From what I have read so far, my showmates all seem to be high achievers with beautiful kids, jobs, husbands, etc. I know everyone wants to put the best goods in the shop window, so to speak, but I have a hard time doing that. And I feel intimidated that I need to do that.
If one peruses this blog, you get a look at me warts and all. I’m my own worst press agent and, as an ex-wife often castigated me, I reveal too much of myself publicly and land up getting in trouble. Other people do it and get book contracts.C’est la vie.
Normally, I don’t have any problem sharing my life stories on the Internet. If I did, this blog would not exist. However, this is different. I haven’t much left in the shop window.
So I have to tell it like it is because that is all I can do.
I have bipolar 2 disorder which was diagnosed, provisionally, a few years ago. My shrink is not completely sure how to classify it because she finds me difficult to classify in general. I find myself difficult to classify (‘I’m a this, I’m a that, “I love to cuddle with my cat’) the way most people do. I most certainly have general anxiety disorder and I know I’ve had it all my life. So if I avoid you, don’t take it personally. I’ve been know to avoid mailboxes because I’ve seen those old ‘Candid Camera’ shows (where the mailbox talks. . .remember? God, I’m old).
To get the usual status seeking stuff out of the way – I earned (!) a b.a. in mass media communications from The Cleveland State University (fanfare) and minored in history, political science and sleeping in the library.
I used to be a sports reporter, news reporter, court reporter, radio reporter, radio talk show host, collegiate sports information representative, etc. But that’s all over now. I work as a public relations specialist for the Department of Veterans Affairs. If they’d pay me the same money to sweep streets, I’d jump at the opportunity.
We all can’t be ‘up people,’ and I am one of those who balances out the ratio of type A to ‘I don’t give a shit’ people on the planet.
But I’m lying of course. I do give a shit. And that causes me great joy and great pain.
I’ve been married three times. I have two grown sons, one on the autism scale. My oldest son has an ordinary computer job for the state of Ohio and is unmarried and seems to have inherited some of my more antisocial traits. My youngest son generally tells me what he wants me to buy him on Amazon. He lives with ex1. Ex2 and I don’t speak.
I had hobbies. I used to read voraciously. I liked to travel. I used to run and work out. I took an improv class at the Arcade Comedy Theater but didn’t jell with the powers that be (the story of my life). Ironically, I was once a psychological operations specialist in the Army.
This blog has been my attempt to strike a balance between writing a mental health memoir and advocating for more mental health outlets for middle aged men. Readers will note that I have observed repeatedly that the vast majority of mental health blogs, websites, organizations, etc., all seem to have targeted the money demo (18-34 years, mostly women, mainly because they talk about their issues more). By the time you are 45 (or earlier) you have disappeared from the mental health community.
By my age (54), most men with mental issues are either dead, in jail, in the bottle, or in seclusion. Some are still trying therapy. Bless ’em all.
Writing, at this point, is all I have left. It is both painful and necessary for me to do. I would like to have the audience I had as a newspaper columnist or a radio talker but this will have to do. I’m not sure what I have to say would garner much of a marketable audience anyway.
Despite the tone of this post, I still manage to get up everyday, go to a job I hate, and do what I have to do. I take pride in the appearance of my house and property. I still find joy in the little things, the absurdity of modern life and the fascination that my wife puts up with me.
If it helps explain things, I grew up in Cleveland and was a rabid Browns fan. That alone is enough to drive anyone to despair. Now I dip myself into the refreshing waters of black and gold and look forward to football season — just not as much as I used to.
Once you get to know me, I’m funnier in person.