Thursday, January 28, 2010


One of my favorite authors, J.D. Salinger, has passed away at the age of 91. I fell in love with his book "Catcher in the Rye" after reading it in 8th or 9th grade. So much so that I read it a second time years later. 

""Catcher" presents the world as an ever-so-unfair struggle between the goodness of young people and the corruption of elders, a message that only intensified with the oncoming generation gap."  

The following quote, from the book, describes the main character beautifully as well as the title:

"I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."

Looking back now, I think my obsession with this book stemmed from my fascination with childhood innocence. I have always felt this need to protect children from the harsh realities of adulthood. If I really want to dig deeper, I could say that my childhood experience with family feuding may have caused me to recoil from any confrontation at all costs. We can not choose the environments we grow up in but parents must realize that their actions can have lasting effects on a child's future. Now I am not saying you should shelter a child from every bad thing in the world, but some children are more sensitive than others. I feel it is my duty to protect my brother from his illness since I can't bear to see him in pain. We often say that Josh may have always been unequip to handle the harsh realities of adulthood. Now that he is burdened with a chronic illness, I would do anything to bring him back to the days when life was so easy for him, as a child. When he first got ill, he often made comments about life being much easier and enjoyable and a kid. 

I am not a therapist, but being subjected to fights within the family/in-laws as a child was something I NEVER had any control of. As an adult, if I loose control, I have a very difficult time adjusting. I wonder if this stems from my childhood or the fact that I analyze everything:) I am not angry at my parents because the majority of the time, they were wonderful and supportive. The only issue I had was that they involved the children in their confrontation even though it had nothing to do with us. When you develop a great sensitivity to confrontation, those early experiences can never be erased. Maybe this is why I won't judge a serial killer or someone whose actions may have been triggered by an extremely abusive upbringing. We must remember that every effect has a cause.  

What's ironic about "Catcher in the Rye" is how one man, with schizophrenia (an illness that robs someone of reality), felt that this book gave him reason to kill John Lennon.

"The cult of "Catcher" turned tragic in December 1980 when crazed Beatles fan Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, citing Salinger's novel as an inspiration and stating that "this extraordinary book holds many answers." 

At the time of the murder, Chapman was clearly unmedicated and unaware of his troubled mind. He has been in prison since 1981 after he changed his plea from insanity to guilty. Some believe that his illness may have resulted from his troubled childhood. Chapman was very sensitive to the anger his parents had towards each other. The physical abuse may have intruded upon his normal development. As a result, he escaped to a fantasy world. I wonder if Chapman became obsessed with Holden Caufield's character since he too was looking for someone to protect him. 

I thank J.D. Salinger for his contributions to the literary world. He will never be forgotten. I will end with one of my favorite quotes:

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." –Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

ROUTINE IS JUST ONE PART OF RECOVERYWhen it comes to mental illness, we start to understand that recovery is not a destination, rather, it is a constant management and understanding of symptoms. My brother continues to amaze me in his efforts to improve on himself. Though it was difficult for him to do, he did go to the local animal shelter in search of  volunteer position. He was afraid that the interviewer would inquire about his volunteering interest since he had a college degree. These uncomfortable situations continue to harp on his conscience. But, as his family, we are there to support and encourage him so that he can see he can live up to his potential. 

To those who are not aware what it is like to live with schizophrenia, I want to point out that your intelligence is NOT affected by the illness in any way. My brother is still much sharper than most and has a memory I am still baffled by. In his case, his symptoms can prevent him from feeling comfortable in social/stressful situations. This can be very problematic when trying to hold a 9-5 job. To the average person, this may be hard to comprehend but it is why I try to educate others. Empathy towards this chronic illness will reduce stigma. It is also important to point out that no case of schizophrenia is the same and there are many who are quite functional. 

In closing, I wanted to say that I am very proud of my brother and hope that being around animals will be comforting to him since he is so good with them. It may seem like a small accomplishment to some but to a family who has seen their son and brother deal with absolute debilitation, it is a monumental step in the right direction. Good luck Josh, we will always be here to support you:)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I often wondered if Artie Lang's humor was a way for him to mask his inner deamons. I am an avid Howard Stern listener so I have witnessed Artie's honesty about his drug addiction and depression. His admissions have helped others, who may be influenced by stigma, understand this very real illness. Some would call in and criticize him, saying depression is not a real disease, or how could he bed ridden with crippling mental anguish. Well, I hope all of those who let their disbelief get in the way of their sympathy will feel something when they read the following:

"Howard Stern sidekick and "Beer League" star Artie Lange was hospitalized this weekend after a suicide attempt at his Hoboken apartment, according to the New York Post. Sources tell the paper the bulbous funnyman stabbed himself nine times, including three deep wounds. A bloodied Lange was discovered by his mother Saturday morning. The 42-year-old has battled addiction in the past and has been absent from Stern's show on Sirius radio for over a month."

This was not Artie's first suicide attempt. If you listen to the show, you know that Artie is obviously dealing with a mental illness and I commend him for seeking help from a therapist recently (something that took years). I often thought that the death of his father caused much of his drug addiction but I have come to realize that, like myself, his inability to deal with his father's death may result from the illness itself. I see now how so many creative people are dealing with obsessive thoughts and other mental issues. There is a sensitivity there that you can't shake and it often is the reason for your creativity and pain. I understand this struggle very well. I am trying to improve on my own mental health but it is something that you tend to daily. I truly hope Artie is OK and my heart goes out to him and his supportive and loving family. They have also been through a great deal over the years. When I read how his mother discovered him while  delivering food (she made with love), I thought of my own mother and how she has done so much for my brother. Thank you mom!