Tag Archives: mental illness

Carrie 

27 Dec

In 2009, after a lot of tests revealing nothing,  I was sent to a cognitive therapist to see what the hell was wrong with me. Among the homework I was thereafter to be assigned, I was to begin a diary. 

…But because I only ever wrote in them when angry, (and because hypochondria is another fun bit to my persona), I told my shrink that I couldn’t do that… cuz what if I died suddenly and then people found and read these moments of anger and thought that that was how I truly regarded them?  

…So then she said,  “Fine,  do a blog then,  something in a public forum. This way you will need to find a healthy alternative in which to spin your anger and resentment and frustration for a reading audience. ”

…So I did. 

…And you’re still reading it. 

…But this is all to set up that: as a writer,  as an actor,  as a mentally fucked-up human (which we all are,  in our own ways, P.S.) I needed a model of study. Because that is what I do in my profession. 

…And my profession has–had–(FUCK YOU,”had”!) an ambassador of the first rank. 

…It was at that time that this one book just happened to be on the NY Bestseller list,  and on all the feature tables of Barnes and Nobles. And I bought it NOT because it was featuring Princess Leia,  but because it was written by the author of “Postcards From The Edge, ” a particularly fantastic insider bio of truth and shock and humor, by Debbie Reynolds’ kid. (Cuz that’s how *she* ranked in my childhood priorities .)

…The thing was: at that particular time,  I was seriously fucked up. My motor skills were for shit and at times I couldn’t feel my extremities.  I couldn’t eat,  so dropped 35 lbs and the “new skinny” just looked wrong, I was having respiratory issues,  getting winded within six to ten steps,  couldn’t sleep because of chronic spins that would make me heavily nauseous when I closed my eyes, my hypochondria was on steroids,  and I was on about seven prescriptions to try and counter it all,  to no avail. 

…Which is when the MD wrote me a prescription to his own personal therapist. 

…So: when I say that I was fucked up and in the worst mental and physical place of my life: believe me–it was bad. 

I was 29.

…By the end of my first couch session, I’d been diagnosed and told that not only could she source it to age five, but that if I hadn’t totally lost my shit when I did, NOW,  I was so bad that by 35, I would likely have ended in a psych Ward. 

…Which is never “good” to hear. But even less so when you are an accute anxiety-bent hypochondriac. 

…So with the mental picture of a future like Frances Farmer in my head, I went desperately seeking out any –ANY–possible option to the contrary,  in my own associated self-help program. 

…Which led me to Carrie. 

…A Carrie I already liked and was comfortable with not because of an epic Star Wars trilogy, but because she made me laugh and think and commune with her as a fellow single in “When Harry Met Sally, ” and because of her books.

 …That brilliant, bombastic, bipolar brain she brandished on the page with liberal seasoning of caustic wit. 

…While we shared not the same diagnosis, we did on the levels of frustration at being perfectly functioning people until (for no apparent reason, and beyond our own control) we weren’t. That sense of loss in regards to power and just plain practicality was something she described so perfectly. And the way she could balance that loss with the analytical behind-the-scene viewpoint of a twisted blooper reel,  was –God’s honest truth–the first time I had laughed in months. 

…Because it was real. NOT of my imaginings or horrors,  but truth in its ugly fucked-up form. If it wasn’t real,  how the hell could she be writing about the thoughts my own brain was thinking?  How could she understand how fucking dark the blackness got? How much of a freak I felt? 

…But most of all,  how in the name of all that is holy,  could she be making jokes and laughing about it,  like it was no big deal?! It was a GIANT, ALL-CONSUMING goddamn deal. Wasn’t that the whole point?!? 

Nope. 

The point was: she was laughing at it. 

…Scary as fuck and frequently beyond her control to do anything,  but. So: fuck you dibilating mental health issues! And the demon dragon you rode in on. 

This beyond all else. THIS. Learned NOT from my super excellent $110 an hour shrink, but from a woman on the inside who knew the road cuz she set fire to the damn path before she walked it, hot coals et al… THIS was the greatest piece of education I received (or will likely ever receive) on what will end up being my lifelong journey as a person struggling with mental health issues. 

…Like my own version of AA. I chose my greatest support from one who had been there and fully understood what it meant and took to fight this shit every day. 

…Which then got me thinking of one of my alltime favorite Sorkin pieces:

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.
“A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
“Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on
“Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”
…Look, I know what the bulk of her obituaries will be saying. And as a person in the Entertainment field, I would be the last kind of person to down-play her iconic importance in so many people’s lives as a Force of Royalty and wit. 
…What I’m saying is that: I’ll mourn that tomorrow. Today,  I have to give thanks for an essential life-teacher,  who woke up every day with a massive fight ahead of her, manned with an arsenal of searing truth, humility, wit,  wonder and fucking chutzpah in spades…which she shared,  at every opportunity, with all of us, so we should never feel alone or shamed or outwitted for our own fights. 
…She was a princess to many,  but a badass mutherfucking Queen to a lot more people,  than she would have ever known. 
Thanks, Carrie.You were epically amazeballs, and I’m so pissed at your early passing. It makes my guts hurt. But you fought your ass off,  babe, more than almost anyone I know. I guess I can’t deny you the much-earned rest. 
Keep it hopping up there! 
~D

Manic, Twisted, & Sexy

28 May

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Today, I have three less personalities to concentrate on, still leaving me with a sizable deck yet to be sorted.

…A great new program at the UWT has been attempting to launch a theatre works interest, not only to the student body but local community as well.  Some of it’s leading professors have brought in a handful of actors to work both with the student playwrights and faculty, to do read performances with talk-backs to get the ball rolling, and I’ve been supremely lucky to be amongst those handful. 

I LOVE contributing in my own backyard…my own city…blocks away from my little home.  I love that they are eager to bring more arts to the area, use it’s local artists as resources, engage audiences made of faculty and students and community, in talk-backs about social issues, politics, art, and literature.  I love being part of a grass-roots movement, and that as more and more educational systems are phasing OUT the arts in their schools, we have a very esteemed University staff stating, “No!  In fact, we don’t have ENOUGH!” 

…How awesome is THAT?!

(I know, right?)

…Which is WHY I now have three less contributors to my psyche, in as much as last night we finished another such read, with a wonderfully alert house-full, engaged in the process, the structure, and the event as a whole. A fine study on mental illness and addiction and the affects they leave in their wake. I had a hell of a lot of fun as the bipolar, self-drug-prescribing, alcoholic root of it all, playing with tight text, exercising a little of my own demons, and having an exhausting wale of a time. These are the kind of work outs, (when married with a dream cast of close buds), when you really getta blow it all out there with full conviction, knowing full-well you are supporting, and are supported by, the best.

It only gets better than this, when it’s up on it’s feet and in full performance…

…Which, speaking of, leads us to the next part of the personality deck: A twisted little tale of sisterly sexual obsession and dark deeds.

“The Maids,” a translation from the Genet original, is next up on the calendar…with hopes to butt it snugly up against a mainstay of my bucket list, which will be auditioning next week.

…So, currently, I’ve a Scouser hairdresser a-la Pygmalion (“Educating Rita”) sharing space with a twisted turn-of-the-century homicidal Frenchy who likes to play-act as others. It’s an interesting combo up in my head these days, to say the least…which I obviously love, as only an actor would voluntarily piggy-back that range and number of personalities together at one time. Dropping the manic-bipolar-drugged-up-drunk off my back, makes the rest left over seem almost feasible at this point.

…So now I’ve only to concentrate on the massive “Maids” line load, break down my script as to whom I am “playing” when, and prep a monologue. Pffft!! Piece of fucking cake!

…Except, minus the cake.

…Cuz I’ve seen what we are wearing in this little French horror story, and the deconstructed waste of seedy, stringy undergarments we will be sporting, while slithering all over one another, requires yet another diet regime to flog and whip my body into a submissive state that I feel comfortable slobbering all over a stage in my “altogethers.” Well, as comfortable as one can be, anyway.

…I wonder if going vegetarian is the key? I wonder if I could even fathom a world without meat for any real length of time?

…I wonder if The WHS Pimp would survive the wasteland of this office with an hormonal and pregnant receptionist, and a meat-addicted me on the wagon?

…Fuck that…would the WORLD survive it??

…This is prob’ly TBA.

…But definitely not till after I finish this donut…

~D

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